My friend Joe and I were comparing Halloween doings:
Joe: Do you get many trick or treaters?
Me: No, not in the community here. It’s mostly retired folks. Occasionally we might get a grandparent herding some little grands. During the pandemic, nada. Now it seems schools, churches, and organizations have trunk and treat which reminds me of a Western movie, cars circling like the wagons to keep out the bad guys. Maybe there are some organized “scares.”
Joe: I’m sure glad I grew up when I did for the Halloween nights we had when I was a kid.
We both looked at each other and kind of snickered.
Me: Yeah, me too. It was fun and scary. Scary fun! Being nine or ten or eleven and out at night was exciting. My sisters and I put together costumes from a box up in the attic that emitted a bit of a musty odor mixed with mothballs. It was stuffed with slightly torn dresses, silky or filmy-or old-fashioned suit jackets from generations before us.
We came from a long, proud, and often wacky line of costumers- Halloween or not.
New Year’s Eve- Flushing NY 1939
Today the clothes would be considered vintage, like the 1900 knee-length black skirted bathing suit with fitted cap. Or the sleek gold lamé gown from the 1920s. Once I pinned and tied up the back it sort of fit. I felt really glamorous tripping (literally) down Kenny Avenue with a beaded bag hanging off my neck and dragging my pillowcase for holding the loot.
The loot, of course, was candy! Little Hersey bars, licorice strings, Good ’n’ Plenty in miniature boxes, candy corn. My personal favorite-Strawberry Turkish Taffy which was not Turkish and had no real strawberries. All pure sugar, straight to your brain. Little mercenaries in training that we were. Pennies were good. Nickels better. My Unicef box got filled with reluctant honesty. Well, almost always honesty. An apple for a treat? Oops, it fell out my pillowcase-too ordinary. Yeah, Halloween was fun.
And the scary part. The house around the corner. No lights on. No decorations. Scary dark.
“Ring the bell.”
“No, you ring the bell.” Riiing.
Like a perfect Halloween Pavlovian response, the three older boys (who had a rep as being wild anyway) always came whooping and yelling from the backyard of their house. Made my legs feel shaky as we ran away screaming, but that was a house we had to visit every year.
2022. Halloween’s here. Trick or Treat! This year I don’t feel the need for excitement.
Please, no tricks this year. The last two years have been tricky enough. Only treats coming my way and your way!!!
So what qualifies as a treat? A yummy dessert of, say cheesecake, after any home-cooked-by-someone-else meal. Swordfish, fresh salad. An evening reading by the fireplace. Or stargazing on our patio under the wide Tucson night sky. A text from someone from the old neighborhood. Being any where kids – of all ages- are playing. Zoom with friends from far away. A basket of Honey Crisp apples? Hey yes, thanks.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.