Halloween Flashbacks


The great Halllow eve is almost upon us. In three days little kids, along with some big ones, will don their best outfits and scour their neighborhoods in the ‘who can get the most candy’ competition. With super storm Sandy supposedly (Wow, say those last four words ten times as fast as you can.) getting ready to land in the next  24 to 36 hours and then stalling for another 24 to 48 hour period, according to our local meteorologist, I think we over did it with the holiday preparations. We’ll probably have enough Tootsie Rolls to last through Easter.

Jack-o-lantern

Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can see where this day would be a complete blast for some people. There are those who are very elaborate in their decorating, the treats they hand out, their parties and their costumes. A husband of one of my good friends in Chicago celebrates Halloween more than he does Christmas. Their yard and front porch looks like a ghost from Halloween past threw up with all the decorations they have out. . .all in good taste of course. Thinking of and making a costume would be the highlight for me, if I did things like that. Several, several years ago my old roommate and I were going to go as King Arthur and Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but alas, it was not meant to be.

It’s not like I have some religious views that prohibit me from celebrating. I have nothing against the holiday. The worst thing that happens that evening are the teenagers that throw on a mask, if your lucky, before they ring your bell and ask for candy. With the type of weather conditions we are expecting I wouldn’t be surprised if we see mostly teenagers this year because they are the only ones sad enough to be out in a storm.

I used the same costume every year growing up, with one exception and I’ll talk about that in a bit. Each and every Halloween I was a hobo. I went into my father’s closet, grabbed a pair of worn jeans, a flannel shirt and a red handkerchief.  My only accessory was a stick, in which I tied the handkerchief after transforming it into a small bundle stuffed with an old wadded up newspaper. Put on a pair of old work boots and the transformation was complete. I was ready to roam around and beg for candy.

I didn’t do either of those things. I didn’t walk because my Mom drove me and I certainly didn’t have to beg; we only went to three houses, two of those being my grandmothers. We farm kids didn’t walk around going house to house, good Lord our nearest neighbor was 1/2 mile away. My Mom certainly wouldn’t drop of us in a neighborhood in town and let us roam around there. Instead, we went visiting. We spent about a half hour at each place, my Mom doing the chatting while my sister and I sat there eating homemade cookies. Not only did we practically get two bags of candy at each stop, we had plenty of time to watch television while we dunk and ate as many cookies as we could coax. In a couple of hours, I would be home, a full belly and bag taking a nap on the sofa with my arms wrapped firmly around my candy for when my father wanted to try to get a little snack.

That was it. That was my Halloween year after year. . .except that one time. I can’t remember the specifics, I was either in kindergarten or first grade, but for some reason my elementary school had an evening Halloween party in which two events stand out. 1. We had a costume competition. 2. There were several games set up in the kindergarten classroom and I participated in the Cake Walk Game without winning. This was also the year, the only year, my Mom made our costumes. They were very good and we were in the running for winning the costume competition.

Children dressed in Batman & Robin costumes, 1966

I’m sure my sister and I would’ve won if I had been more enthusiastic. I remember very clearly how disappointed I was in my outfit, even though it was a great costume. My sister was Batman and I went as Robin. Without giving away my true identity today, let’s just say, that wasn’t much of a stretch for me. There I was in cape and tights with an “R” on my chest and people laughed, not because of the tights but because of the name. I remember their laughter and the fact that my felt material “R” kept falling off.

I’m not complaining. Just the idea that my Mom would make our costumes is enough for me. She was very sick for many years including that Halloween and for many thereafter. She never dressed-up herself like some parents do today but I never remember our father taking us out. And you know back in those days it was almost always cold and wet, sometimes from snow, so he wasn’t out the fields that night. That’s why I had to protect my candy while I napped.

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