Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween

The last of the Tinkerbells, ladybugs and Spidermen have rung the bell and gone home. There is barely anything left of the four giant bags of assorted chocolate bars or the 200 sour twizzlers. We had 383 trick or treaters. My husband likes to keep track. For awhile there were so many kids going by, I couldn’t see across the street. This on a street where there are no sidewalks and usually barely any foot traffic.

When things quieted down, I took my dog for her nightly walk. I was surprised at how many of the houses on the street were totally dark, meaning they weren’t giving out candy. Then there were the houses with elaborate Halloween decorations.

We always give out candy, and it’s always two candies per kid. Because I remember what a big deal Halloween was for me when I was young. Candy, along with pop (the Chicago term for carbonated beverages), and snack items like chips and such were non existent at my house. It wasn’t that my parents were some kind of food fanatics. It was all dollars and cents, or lack of.

Halloween was my once a year source of candy. I remember coming home and dumping my bag of goodies into a shoe box. I always took out the loose candy corn. It was long before anybody thought of putting razor blades in apples or poison in candy, but the orange and yellow pieces always seemed to be covered with some kind of bag lint that even for candy starved me didn’t seem appealing. The selection of candy was much smaller in those days. The candy companies hadn’t figured out what a good idea it was to make all this miniature versions of their bigger bars. As I recall mostly I got Kraft caramels, little Tootsie Rolls, silvery wrapped Hershey Kisses, pieces of Double Bubble, some lolly pops and if I was lucky a few regular size candy bars. I would always make the candy last – sometimes almost until Christmas.

The other part of trick or treating I liked was seeing the inside of houses, or as much as you could see from the front door being open. We lived in a building that had been built as a hotel for the World’s Fair which I think was in 1993. This was in the fifties and to describe the building as run down was the kind way to put it. Rent was cheap and it attracted a lot of writers, artists and just interesting people. I think the term was bohemian. Later they were called beatniks and later than that hippies. A lot of the houses and apartments around us were much nicer than ours and I was curious to see what they were like inside.

Mrs. Gardener lived in a brick row house down the block. Often she would let some of the kids in to see her antique doll collection, which was a big treat. She’s gone now, but her dolls are part of a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Whenever I see the exhibit, it reminds me of Halloween and coming into her house.

I don’t know if any of the kids who came by tonight cared about looking inside my house, though I do have lots and lots of dolls lining the top of the bookcase in the entrance hall and on the other side standing on top of the old treadle machine and balancing on shelves. They aren’t antiques like Mrs. Gardeners, but they are a funny combination of everything from PeeWee Herman to Barbie as a veterinarian to a handmade Popeye the Sailor. I do know that the kids seemed just as excited to get the treats as I was when I was their age. It’s nice that some things stay the same.


Terri Thayer said...

Where I lived as an adult in Northeast PA, the tradition was to bring the trick or treaters into your house. They had to work for their candy - tell a joke or play a trick. It was great fun. The kids just tromped on in and the whole family got in on the fun.

One little fellow who played basketball on my husband's team would try to disguise himself each year, getting more and more elaborate costumes so we wouldn't recognize him. Of course, he blew it every year by asking, "Do you know who I am?" Because then we did know. He was the only one who asked that.

Fun days.

Betty Hechtman said...


Sounds like they were fun days.

Camille Minichino said...

Halloween and mysteries seem to go together. Last night I catalogued all the different costumes -- a small guy with a hot dog costume took the prize!

I decided then and there that the next Miniature Mystery, which I need to start soon, will have a Halloween setting.

I might steal Terri's idea of having kids "perform" for their candy -- with her permission and an acknowledgment of course!

Betty Hechtman said...


The miniature idea sounds neat. The best costume we got was a little boy dressed up as a toilet.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Where I live, Betty, we never have trick-or-treaters, even though it's a nice residential area. We did see some dressed-up kids nearby last night after we gave up and headed out for dinner, but if they stopped at our place we'll never know it now. Some of my own fondest memories are of trick-or-treating myself, and taking my sons around when they were young.

Betty Hechtman said...

We used to live four blocks from where we do now and we never had one trick or treater.

I have a lot a happy memories taking my son trick or treating. One of the years we had the most fun it was pouring. He wore a rain coat and red rubber boats and was a fireman.

Beverly Button said...

When I was a kid, my favorite house to hit at Halloween was one where a very old man would let you choose from a bowl of apples.

It wasn't that I was crazy about apples-- I just loved the little old man and thought he would make a great grandpa for a kid like me who didn't have one!