When I was a kid, it never failed but Halloween would be a frigid, rainy day. Whatever costume you had and were so incredibly proud to show off would be hidden beneath your winter coat, scarf, hat and mittens, only to be shared at the school party or local community costume party. This was before all such events were considered pagan or religious and banned from schools. Halloween parties were the best, because unlike the Valentine or Christmas parties, no gifts or cards were exchanged and no one felt left out if they didn’t get a card or gift from their “special” friend. Rarely were costumes purchased, either, so it was a creative collaboration between parent and child to come up with a suitable costume. Even the ever-popular-oh-so-simple bed sheet ghost was accepted with as much glee as the neighborhood vampire.

My favorite costume for several years was a gypsy getup that my grandmother had given me. It consisted of a gauzy rust orange colored skirt, a billowy yellow shirt, long deep red sash, and huge hoop earrings – made for non-pierced little girls’ ears. I wore that costume for several years in a row until if finally, literally, fell apart. Many years later I would find an old picture of my mother (the one who died when I was three) wearing the same costume. I often wondered if she loved it as much as I did. She seemed pretty happy in the picture.

I remember my father being a stickler for the “trick” before the “treat”. Kids better not come to our house unprepared, for they would never receive a treat just for showing up. Even a badly told joke was better than nothing and would get its just reward. That, of course, worked in reverse. I must not leave the house without a properly rehearsed joke (Have I mentioned I have a mental block about jokes? I love them, but can never remember one – even one I’ve just been told. I must write it down if I expect to relay it.) or, in my case, a song. It was just a little ditty that I think we learned in school, but it was something I could remember and warble out in passable fashion.

These, too, were the days before you had to be suspicious of everything in your candy sack. X-raying of the goodies was still far into the future and the razor blades / pins / poisons were all happening “somewhere else”. The homemade treats were always the best – the hand wrapped brownies, popcorn balls, and caramel apples beat out the “fun size” candy every time. (I don’t remember it being called “fun size” at the time, though. Can’t remember what they did call it… hmmm… The memory, she is a-goin’.)

Then, of course, there was the inevitable candy inspection when you got home. Although no one was looking for razor blades or pins, it was a known fact that Dad must have his cut of the loot. Seems to me my children had to go through the same thing. I guess there are some things that never change, huh?

I was in the yard last night near dusk and the combine was going through the field right outside our house. There was the faint aroma of burning leaves in the air. The rustle of the dry corn husks and the leaves that have started turning and falling all joined to flash me back to those Halloweens long ago… have I mentioned I love fall?

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Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

9 thoughts on “Boo!”

  1. Fall is too short of a season. I mean, it lasts as long as the other seasons, by the calendar, but the essence of fall – the fall colors, the crisp, sunny days, those don’t last long. At least in MN, fall is brief and the majority of the season is spent under cloud cover, chilled temps and the leaves have all dropped quickly at the beginning. I wish the first part of fall could last the entire fall season.

  2. I am in California where the “essence” of fall is a ghost, a mere whisper of itself. You have to be alert and look closely to catch fall’s presence. And that alone is enough to make its mystical and elusive presence a memorable commodity. I remember chasing crimson leaves in the crisp autmn wind, I remember the smoky aroma of burned leaves as we scoured the ashes for foil wrapped sweet potatoes; as fine a treat as I can recall. I remember crying myself to sleep the one year it actually rained on Halloween, the disappointment of waiting a full year to not run wildly out into the night “mildly” supervised and “trick” the unsuspecting neighbors into giving me “treats” (popcorn balls and caramel apples were on top of the list) not to discount candy corn and candy bars, candy cigarettes (can anyone say future smoker?), jawbreakers, Dum Dum suckers, necco wafers, pixie stix or my personal favorite smarties, a good night could haul in enough loot to last a month or two…
    I remember most years we could not afford to buy candy and Mom, not wanting to “steal” from my bounty would enlist my reluctant aid in preparing “Rock Candy” as our aresenal against the raging trick or treaters of the night. During good years we would make popcorn balls and candy apples and my Mother would then offer me my choice of “one ” treat for helping her. It seems no matter what I chose, I always made the wrong decision and wished I had selected the other after my treat was gone…

  3. I’ve lived in Cali my whole life…So Cal to be exact. In LA, we know it’s fall when the green leaves turn brown-gray and fall and then gardners with leafblowers abound. You feel the warm Santa Ana winds blowing from the north and you anticipate the clock turning back and cold nights ahead…keep in mind, cold for us is in the 60’s. We may not have colorful foliage, but where else can you get a coupon good for half on on “head shots” in your candy bag?

  4. Yes! I remember going to lots of trouble to make a halloween costume & then have to wear a coat over it all. Grat memory, that one. When we were older, tho, it was so *uncool* to wear a coat, so you would go out and just freeeeeze — but oh you looked so much cooler, right? hehehe

  5. Halloween doesn’t seem to be the same as when I was younger, too. People would often do up their houses like a haunted house, and nowadays, you don’t know if the peson’s going to be an axe murderer. I lived in cold areas, too, which always sucked when I picked a “lighter” outfit because then I’d have to wear some big ass coat to cover it up.

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