At the risk of sounding like an old man gassing on with pompous proclamations that begin with “in my day…”, I remember the Halloweens of my childhood as kinder, gentler, more magical times than Halloweens seem nowadays.
Trick-or-Treating was a (mostly) carefree endeavor where children went from door to door in a neighborhood that was safe and full of people you knew (and, perhaps more importantly, full of people who knew your parents :-) We compared costumes…some store bought, some homemade…and collected treats delightful (those little bitty chocolate candy bars) and mildly disappointing (those rock-hard ribbon candies that linger in our bags until we could pawn them off to younger siblings or until everything else was gone.) And we could happily take fruit and homemade delights without fear of them containing poison or razor blades or anything else like that (the idea of taking our Halloween treasure to a hospital to have them x-rayed for dangerous things wasn’t part of our childhood experience.) The worst thing that could happen, we assumed, was a childish prank.
When I was in the 5th grade I made the Halloween rounds with Lloyd, my best friend at the time. We were both shy boys but we were quite at ease with each other. Lloyd lived across the street from the north side of
On the Halloween evening of that year, Lloyd and I made the rounds of the neighborhood together (my brother Guy was off with his bratty little friends which was just fine with me.) I was dressed in my plastic Batman helmet, my vinyl Batman cape, my cool Batman t-shirt, black pants, and my stylish Batman sneakers; Lloyd was decked out as a cowboy.
We went to my block of 40th Place first making a beeline for the vaguely spooky house of the old lady who lived across the street from me. She was one of the few white people left in what had at one time been an all-white middle class neighborhood and she mostly kept to herself; but every Halloween she made the most amazing little cakes, meticulously decorated, and handed them out. I knew to go to her house early because there were only so many that she made each year and when the last one was handed out she would shut off her porch light and apparently go to bed. Lloyd and I got there in time and took the precious little cakes over to my house to stash them in the refrigerator for safekeeping.
We circled the blocks we were allowed to visit collecting candy and gum and fruit until our bags were loaded down with sugary, chocolaty goodness. Having collected as much as we could…if not, being 5th grade boys who didn’t always know what was good for them, as much we wanted to…we stopped back by my house. I took off my helmet and my cape and stashed my loot on my bed while Lloyd retrieved his little cake.
As the hour was growing late I offered to walk Lloyd halfway home and he agreed. We sat off…the cowboy and the unmasked Batman…but as we reached the corner two teenage boys came running out of the darkness howling like banshees. Before we knew what was going on they had snatched Lloyd’s bag right out of his hands were running back into the darkness laughing.
Lloyd was devastated. I offered to share half of my candy with him but he adamantly refused so I took him back to my house and got another bag and we went out again. Trick-or-Treat time was winding down so many houses…including the house of the old white lady across the street…had already switched off their porch lights but we went to every house that still lit. I was, as I said, quite shy but I screwed up my courage to explain to people at the doors what had happened. Lloyd was tight-lipped, afraid that he might cry if he said anything he told me later, but the people were happy to give him more treats even though we’d been to their houses before (a couple gave him the remainder of what they had left in their bowls.
By the time we were done, Lloyd’s bag was almost as full as the first one had been. We went back to my house so that I could get my cousin Philip, who was in High School, to walk us to Lloyd’s house. Though part of me really didn’t want to, I tried to give Lloyd my little cake…sitting in its little box in the refrigerator…but, again, he refused. But when he wasn’t looking I slipped it into his bag anyway.
Philip walked us all the way to Lloyd’s house and then walked with me back home.
The next morning, I met Lloyd across the street from the north end of
It was, all things considered, a good Halloween.