When a 5-year-old boy moves from the farm into town, albeit a small farm town, he learns a lot of new things. Things like if you go to the drug store with the owner’s kid you can get a free soda. And if you go to the produce with the manager’s kid, you can watch the men load boxes of eggs onto a truck and, if you behave, they’ll put you in a box and roll you down the conveyor, too. Great fun!
In that vein, I learned something new when I was 5-years-old and had lived in town for a few months – there’s a way to get free candy!
I remember this in some detail. My family of Mom, Dad and two little brothers and I had visited my maternal grandparents in Grundy County that day. On the way home, we drove through Eldora where I saw lots of boys and girls dressed up in costumes walking on the city’s sidewalks.
"What are those kids doing?" I recall asking my parents. Mom explained that it was Halloween and the children were trick or treating. They go to houses and say "trick or treat" and the people give them candy, I was told. I knew nothing of this when I lived on a farm.
When we arrived at our home nearly 30 miles later my mother took my brothers and me across the street to visit an older couple. We did not wear costumes but that wasn’t a problem. The very sweet older folks eagerly gave us each some candy. I was an instant trick or treat fan.
We never had fancy Halloween costumes in my family. My brothers and I usually put on some older clothes and went door-to-door dressed as hoboes. All went well until the fall I was 8 or 9-years-old (I can’t remember which) and the community decided that the children would trick or treat for UNICEF. Instead of asking for candy, we were told to ask for money for the United Nations’ Children’s Fund. Then the community threw a big party for us at the school gym.
Now I realize this was a nice thing to do but at that tender age the philanthropic part of my brain had not yet developed. I was not pleased. The party fell far short of a grocery sack filled with candy.
I don’t recall that the community tried that again. Maybe there was talk of a child revolt or something, but the next year we were back to large volumes of candy.
My last year of trick or treating was traumatic. I went door-to-door with my brothers and a couple of cousins and at several houses the adults muttered, "Aren’t you a little old to be trick or treating?"
"I’m only 12," I responded truthfully but the adults saw a kid nearly as large as many 16-year-olds. Life isn’t easy when you’re large.
That was the year I retired from the sweet endeavor called Trick or Treat.
A couple of years later I put my nerd skills to use and placed a loudspeaker inside a jack-o-lantern on our front porch. I hid in the living room and watched the little ghosts and goblins come to our door from a living room window. As they neared the jack-o-lantern I spoke into a microphone to make it appear that the pumpkin was talking. In a small town you know most of the kids so when I recognized someone I called him or her by name.
Some of the smaller children cried when the pumpkin talked to them. This was not my intention; I thought kids would enjoy a talking jack-o-lantern. I was a nerd but I wasn’t a jerk so the talking pumpkin quit talking.
It was the next year, I recall, that I got more heavily involved in the Halloween shenanigans in our community, but there’s no need to go into detail.
Years later in Sioux City our neighbor, John, and his three kids and my two kids and I went up and down several blocks of our street and the next street north or us. The kids brought home great volumes of candy which I taught them was to be shared with their parents who loved them dearly. It worked some of the time.
Nowadays I enjoy having the little ones come to my door for treats. And if some bigger kids ring my doorbell, I give them candy; no questions asked. They’re probably only 12 years old.