Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I had to get my Halloween fix on Facebook sad as that is to say.  My friend who lives in a small subdivision in town, had over a 110 trick or treaters and had to finally shut off her porch light.  I am lucky if I get two trick or treaters and this year that number dwindled down to zero.  I live on a sparse stretch of mile in the country.  Even when my kids were small, we never trick or treated on our road, as the people on it were older and their children were grown.  We went to the neighborhoods that had younger kids and were therefore prepared to have candy and lots of it.  So, our porch light was seldom on and even after my kids were past all of that, it was a rare occurrence to get more than 5 kids knocking on my door.  Some would say it is one of the perks of the country, but I sigh, as I remember my own days of going out on Halloween.

We planned our costumes for days, though the planning never included anything that was bought or that couldn't be sewn together with a needle and thread, such as patches on your knees for the always popular, hobo or tramp.  A stick with a bundled handkerchief attached, a bit of charcoal applied to the face, and if you really wanted to be creative, some Blackjack gum to  fake a missing front tooth.  It wasn't hard to be a tramp back then as the supplies were readily available.  And it didn't much matter, the costumes were pretty forgettable.  I know my brother went as a ghost one year, but try as I might to remember, the hobo is the only costume in my kid years I really remember.  It was all about the goodies we collected for halloween, not the costume, I guess, or my memory is just really in the toilet for such things now.

My mom traded off driving us for trick or treating with my best friend's, the Gustara girl's mom.  One year she drove and the next Helen drove.  My brother was the only boy in the group back then but he didn't mind.  It didn't take but a couple of years to know the "hot spots" to get to.  Because both sets of grandparents lived fairly close we usually stopped at all.  Grandma Bonnell did wonderful bags of trick or treat delights.  A popcorn ball, penny candy and usually a larger sized candy bar.  Not to be missed.  Grandma Gustara and Uncle Joe didn't have the greatest treats in the world, but Grandma Gustara was fascinating to me as she seemed to be no taller than I with white hair, few teeth and talked in the Czech tongue and I couldn't understand a word.  Uncle Joe who I did know and was crazy about, translated, and that was as good as a candy bar to a kid who never heard it.    My grandparents had nice treats but weren't nearly as interesting to me. 

We got alot of apples, usually dropped on a homemade cookie, rendering the cookie, crummy by the time we dumped the contents of our paper shopping bags at the end.  Popcorn balls, penny candy and the occassional actual candy bar were like gold to us.  The highlight of the trick or treating tour was the stop at Wilsey's store a half mile away.  The Wilsey's stayed open later for trick or treaters and we were allowed to pick whatever we wanted from the penny candy shelves.  Those shelves ran a good 15 feet and were two shelves high, we believed we were the luckiest kids in the world on Halloween. 

We always stopped at a few of the elders of our small farming community, and inevitably had to sing for our treat.  The older folks were hem and haw and tell us to sing real loud.  We were impatient to be on our way to the next stop.  I now realize, how we brightened their holiday by stopping and looking back wished I had sung a few extra bars of any song, no matter how dreadful I sounded.  Why does wisdom always come in the form of looking back and knowing now....

We knew everyone who's house we stopped at, and  everywhere we stopped, the grown ups had a chat, while we kids bounced from foot to foot, eager to be on to the next place.  Exhausted finally, we were back home to examine our booty.  We didn't look for razor blades or hidden objects but looked to see what was actually candy and what could be bartered between my brother and I.  Apples were stored in the fridge and ended up in our lunch boxes for the next two weeks.  Popcorn balls also were saved for lunches while penny candy was counted, categorized and divided accordingly.  We hid our treasure, usually under our beds, and lived in delight for a good two weeks, carefully rationing the wonders that Halloween had wrought.

I always thought my kids never had it as good as I did, but I suppose they will think the same thing with their own children.  I do remember more of their costumes, probably because I sewed or altered a good many.  Ryan with his dad's army uniform on, the wool pants basted so he could wear them.  Korey as Count Dracula, with my expertise of face paint and fake blood.  Annie as an angel, a witch and a princess.  I still have the Snow White costume she borrowed from a friend and forgot about, still hanging in her closet.  Probably my most memorable costume for my kids were the year I sewed tomato costumes for the boys and stuffed them with newspapers to get the desired shape.  They rustled when they walked.  And Ryan as a butterfly, complete with a huge span of cardboard wings that would only go through the sliding door on the van we drove.  Every stop meant pulling that door open and Ryan going out and in sideways so as not to catch his wings.

My newly 5 month old grandson was dressed as Yoda from Star Wars.  We didn't take our babies out until they were over a year, as it wasn't like they were going to eat the candy.  The intracacies of putting a 5 month old in a costume after each stop and then taking off the costume to fit him into his car seat was a major production and meant that the little guy and his sleep deprived parents were both exhausted by 8 that night.  My grand daughter's costume I got to view on Facebook as her mom put her "glow in the dark skeleton" sleeper picture for all of us to see.  She looked totally oblivious to how cute she was.  While I miss not seeing her in person every day, the best years of trick or treating are ahead of her.

So Facebook became my way to see my grand nieces and nephews in costume.  My silly kids with no kids yet in costume, and wacky friends who are never to old to dress up.  We shared pictures from far away and smiled.  It was not the Halloween I fondly remember but things just insist on not staying the same.  And I guess that's a good thing....

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