While one of our reporters was chatting with me on Halloween, I noticed that his attire had a western look to it. It is not uncommon for him to wear cowboy boots. In fact, I know who it is when I hear them clomping on the tile floor as he heads toward my office. When he told me what he was wearing was part of a costume for later in the evening, my thoughts began drifting to Halloweens past.
Christmas, birthdays and hunting Easter eggs were more fun when I was young. Thanksgiving and Fourth of July were more fun when I wasn’t watching my waistline. But beyond them all — for some reason I do not fully comprehend — I truly think the time of year around trick or treat and Halloween is my favorite.
Maybe it’s because of all the candy I gobbled down when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because autumn is my favorite time of year. Maybe it’s because it’s football season and that makes autumn weather all the more enjoyable. Maybe it’s because I like all the decorations and the feeling of something spooky lurking around the corner. Probably it is a combination of all those things and more.
When I was a child my family lived in a relatively new subdivision with lots of smaller homes that were perfect for young families. That’s mostly the type of people that lived there. On trick or treat night, it seemed there were thousands of kids running this way and that, and maybe it was all the costumes, or the decorated homes and laughter, that first set me on my path of loving this time of year.
Whatever it is, although the mystique of trick or treat and Halloween have largely changed with each stage in my life, it has always held a special attraction.
I remember clearly the first year I decided I was too old to go begging for candy. Looking back, I imagine that deep down inside, my buddies and I still wanted to dress up and go house to house begging for treats. But, we were coming of age, girls were starting to look a whole lot better, and well, it just would not have been cool if one of them saw us trick or treating. Instead, we decided to walk around, sans costumes, and take in the sights.
In those days, not far from our neighborhood there was a house neatly painted in all kinds of pastel colors — with a red, white and blue fence around it. It was a well-maintained place, but it was more than a little strange looking and had the misfortune of being near the middle school/high school. So, kids being kids, the poor woman who lived there suffered lots of torment.
On this particular trick or treat night, my friends and I were walking on the same block where the unusual house was located, innocently taking in the sights and completely minding our own business, when a police cruiser slowly pulled up close to us. Then, next thing we knew, the officer was out of the car, wanting to know what we were doing, and asking us to climb into his cruiser.
Now, at that point in my life, I was still a bashful and innocent kid. So, when the cop started asking us pointed questions, talking kind of gruffly, about what we were doing out walking around, I had no idea how to answer. He didn’t seem to believe that we were just walking around minding our own business. I have no idea if I answered or someone else did the talking. All I was thinking was that if my parents knew I was in the back seat of cop car, I was in for big trouble.
For a good while — at least it seemed like an awfully long time — the officer kept driving around asking us mostly the same thing over and over. In fact, it got to a point where rather than being scared, I was starting to get mad.
About that time, though, he stopped and let us out, politely telling us to have a good rest of the evening.
As it turns out, somebody had egged that poor old lady’s strange-looking house, and our little group must have matched the culprits’ description.
In the years to come, it very well could have been my friends and I that were guilty. Goodness knows we pranked enough people and their homes. But on that night we were still innocent.
The next year, or maybe the one after that, one of my buddies and I decided to pass out some candy at his parents’ house for a while on trick or treat night. It was very early in the evening and we were waiting on our first customers when the door bell rang. When we opened the door, rather than a bunch of kids standing there asking for candy, a barrage of eggs came flying at us. They missed us, but one or two landed inside the house. As our other friends took off running, my buddy and I were left to clean up their mess.
It was a hassle to clean up the gooey steps, floor and front porch, but it was not all bad. Because, revenge can be rather sweet.
Halloween is made for tricks and treats. I guess a couple years I got treated to some tricks. Maybe that’s all part of the attraction.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.