This post is by Joe Stephens
I got home last night in plenty of time for trick-or-treating. Sadly, it was because my school’s volleyball team, which played amazingly considering they were playing through a tragedy (The head coach lost his son suddenly. The team took a double hit because one of their starters is the coach’s granddaughter and the child of the man who passed away.) lost out in the semifinals of their conference tournament. Be that as it may, I was there when the steady stream of ghouls, goblins, and superheroes came to our door.
Only they never came. We had a grand total of seven trick-or-treaters (not tricks-or-treatsers, despite what Charles Schulz said) four of our relatives and the grandkids of the people across the street. Nowadays kids seem to trick-or-treat by going by car to homes of people they know. I’m sure there are still neighborhoods where the kids go door-to-door, but it’s not like it used to be. And who can disagree? There are a lot of scary people out there. But back in my day, it was just a simpler time. We were more innocent, more naïve. And somehow, all my friends and I survived. Each year on whatever night trick-or-treating takes place (Does anyone else remember when it was just always on Halloween or am I making that up?) I am taken back to vivid memories from my childhood.
The first costume I can remember having was a Frankenstein’s monster outfit. I don’t remember where we got it–probably Arlan’s, which was as close as we had to a Wal-Mart back then. I loved the green mask and wore it all the time. Except at dinner–the mouth hole was too small. I got it because I loved the movie, which I saw when Mom and Dad let me stay up to watch Chiller Theater on channel thirteen one Friday night. It was scary but in a good way.
My favorite costume coincided with my best haul ever. I got a hard plastic Batman cowl for the previous birthday, if I recall correctly. It was adult size so I had to put a folded towel in the back to make it fit, but it looked amazing! I hadn’t planned to wear it for trick-or-treating, but it rained hard that evening. I didn’t want to miss out, so Dad pulled out an old dark poncho and I put on the cowl. I was toasty dry the whole time. And as a bonus, the weather kept all the wimpy kids at home. By the end of the evening, people were pouring their entire bowls in my bag because no one else had come. I was sick for a week!
My least favorite memory is tempered by a really good one. We had some neighbors who lived at the end of a short wooded walk. My cousins and I were nearly done with our rounds when we stopped there. I was last in line and, just as we entered a dark spot on the walk, somebody darted out from behind a tree and ripped my bag from my hands. It happened so fast I didn’t even get a glance at the person. I had a bag full of goodies and then suddenly I didn’t. I stood there, too shocked to even shout. When I finally got words, I told my neighbors what happened. They got a spare bag from their house and gave me everything they had. My cousins even split their haul with me. I ended up with as much as I started with. My cousins Jan and Joyce (known by our whole family simply as “The Twins”) were, and still are, wonderful and generous people.
So what are your most vivid memories of Halloweens past?
Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, and the recently released In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg and from the author’s trunk.
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