Trick or Treat of Yore

As a kid I couldn’t wait for Halloween to arrive. Many of my friends began trick or treating a full week before the actual day. I begged Mom to allow me to go out with my buddies after supper. I hounded until she finally relented. My masked buddies and I went door knocking. Most often we were met by very angry people who slammed the door in our face shouting “it is too early.” In spite of all the door slams we got some people who gladly dipped into their candy reserves and made us go away happy.

The amount of candy we generated was low in the advance week, and many reverted to pennies or nickels. The grumpy people made me grumpy and some of my buddies were downright irritated to the point of dreaming up some ridiculous tricks. I was too afraid to execute tricks for fear of facing Mom or worse Dad in the family court where instant justice was dispensed with sentences. The most severe sentence would have been losing trick or treat privileges on Halloween.

My group didn’t perform radical tricks like tipping outhouses (we didn’t have an outhouse to tip) or setting a brown paper bag filled with fecal matter at the front door, ringing the bell and running away to watch the grouch get his due. We did, more often than not, use a nice bar of soap to write messages on windows.

Another memory goes back to the Halloween Parade sponsored by the local public school playground. A thousand kids would line up and hold candle lighted pumpkins as we were led around the neighborhood sidewalks by a Witch holding a flaming torch for a one hour parade in the dark.

My town celebrated Halloween this morning at the Breidert Green parking lot. The event is sponsored by the police department as an attempt to keep kids off the streets during the dark hours of Halloween. It begins with a costume parade a block away from the green. They are led by a policeman to the green where they march around the parking lot. Organizations from town are parked with trunk side out and open with display of scary skeletons, ghosts, and witches, and hand out candy as the costumed kids parade by followed by their buggy pushing parents. The kids make a remarkable haul of goodies, My Lions club is one of the groups that participates in Trunk or Treat.

When I see how modern kids trick or treat I feel sorry for them. These poor creatures are being brainwashed into believing Halloween is a lesson in politeness and cordiality. Most of the cuties coming to the door do not speak yet, and when I ask them why they are bothering me they just stare up at me and look terrified. Eventually an older kid will finally shout out “trick or threat.” Most will answer “thank you” even though I have not yet moved toward the candy dish. When they finally and sheepishly say the words trick or treat, I ask them what kind of trick they will play on me to if I don’t pay their ransom. Again, I get the big sad beagle eyed look that tells me they don’t really know what the heck I am asking. All the while they are being observed by their parents from the sidewalk. Very untrusting parents actually don costumes and arrive at the door with their progeny, and coach the costumed kiddies on “what do you say?”

I look forward to the event tomorrow as I try to have as much fun as possible with the munchkins before they politely run away yelling thank you.

I recall my own kids going trick or treating. My dear wife would always buy them the latest costumes, but the weather always corrupted the event with rain, and cold. Barb would make the kids wear their winter coats and stuff them into the costumes so they looked like miniature Pillsbury Doughboys. It didn’t matter, they loved it.