When I was a kid, Halloween was my second favorite holiday, with Christmas, of course, holding the top spot. It even surpassed my birthday! Nothing could match the excitement of going door to door for candy treasures. I was 5 years old when I first went trick or treating and wore a horse costume that my Mom made from brown felt since I was crazy about horses. I came home from school, did my homework really fast and could hardly eat dinner, which was surprising since it was my favorite – pizza! I just couldn’t contain the butterflies in my stomach. By the time I dressed into my costume, grabbed my pillow case, which served as a candy bag, and raced out the door, my heart was thumping with anticipation. Off we went into the darkness, my brother and I, with my Dad trailing somewhere behind. As we grew up, we eventually went out on our own and scoured every neighborhood in the tri-state area. We were relentless Halloweeners. “Trick or Treat!” we’d shout gleefully at each door. In those days, you were sometimes required to do a little dance or song for a treat, but thankfully, it was not that often. In return, you got a full-sized bar of candy, not the little snack or fun sizes. You could go into a sugar comma from one of those bars!
When my brother and I got home, we immediately poured our treasures out onto the table and started lining up same-kind candy and trading for our favorites. Mine is, and continues to be, Mr. Goodbar with Hershey’s Almond bar coming in a close second. There was no need to examine each and every piece for tampering since it was a different world where things were safe. We would get a few apples that we immediately pawned off to our parents who actually seemed to like them. Some people would throw a few pennies or a nickel in our bag, which we used for penny candy at the corner store. Then we stuffed our faces to our heart’s content until our lips were glazed with chocolate residue. Of course, we tossed and turned all night due to the sugar rush, then dreamt of sugar plums dancing in our heads.
Costumes were also a little different then the extravagant styles of today. Most of the time, we came up with our own from whatever was in the house. Being a “bum” was popular because we could just wear old clothes and tater them up a bit. Dad’s old hat was the topper. A ghost was an old sheet with the eyes and mouth cut out. If you were lucky enough to take dancing lessons, you used your tutu to be ballerina. A flannel shirt and jeans with a neckerchief made you a cowboy. Add suspenders to that and you were a farmer. Dressing in black with a pointed hat made out of stapled cardboard made you a witch. We were very creative and clever kids, and it was fun to use our imaginations to come up with stuff. There was no such thing as a costume store, and we were definitely not looking to make a fashion statement.
In our neighborhood the “pièce de résistance” would be snagging a homemade red-glazed candy apple from the house up the street on the corner. A plain apple was no big deal, but coat it with sugary glaze, and it became a prized conquest. Of course, every kid in the neighborhood ran to that house first, so you had to get there early before the limited quantity ran out. Since we knew the family, there was no need to worry about contents. Sometimes their kids would hide in the brush, jump out and scare the bahjeepers out of us, so we really had to weigh the worth of those candy apples! One year we successfully made our way through the scary darkness of their tree and brush covered yard in the misty rain only to find they had decided not to make them that year. That was a real disappointment.
The sweets we attained filled at least two boxes and were stored on the top of the refrigerator so my Mom could monitor our intake. Of course, I realize now that Mom and Dad had a hand in the disappearance of a good fraction of the goodies. No problem. We savored those tasty morsels until well into the Thanksgiving season.
So, get your caldrons out and mix up an eye-of-newt spooky, toe-of-frog scary, outrageously Happy Halloween! Pleasant nightmares…bahaha…