Where Are The Halloweens Of Yesteryear?

LA MESA -- A few days ago I stopped by my local Halloween candy outlet near my home and picked up my usual overdose of candy. Each time this time of year rolls around all I must needs do is sit and close my eyes and I am transported many years in the past and once again experience the anticipation of "Trick or Treat!". Excitement and terror. Who could ask for anything better for kids?  Huh?

 As a weeun I remember holding my mother's hand as she walked me along the dark road, the tree overgrown neighborhood. Branches sway and creak, the cool Autumn breeze wafts the aroma of candy and candles and roasting pumpkins. It seemed as though every house had the obligatory pumpkin and sometimes two alight outside front doors. The wonderful smell of charring pumpkin insides helps make the evening for me. I can hear the squeals and laughter of the other kids out there somewhere. What in the world were they so happy about? This is scary stuff here and I'm up to my eyes in it!  

There were always the frightening noises and accompanying screams in the night, all designed and destined to terrify that wee guy with the bug eyes and quivering sensation down the spine. Wow! Those were sure scary times and my fright was not assuaged by a mask greatly blocking any vision and this scratchy costume. My mum always held my hand and urged me to mummer "Trick or Treat" and hold out my bag. Remember now, I am just in First grade and everything around is pretty big and Halloween is the scariest time of the year. My father has done everything he can do to scare hell out of me with his ghostly and bloody stories in preparation for tonight and boy it is sure working. But afterward, wow, afterward ... home and with the doors closed against the lurking beasts, ogres and trolls, I pour out my great bag of candy, my swag. My Mum sits, sighs and pulls off her shoes, probably thinking, "Well, thats over for another year!". She gathers up my swag and lets me keep just a few things, telling me she will give me some tomorrow but I cant eat it all tonight and get sick. Grownups just never understand, do they?

I fast forward to later years and by then am enjoying the "Trick or Treat" experience with my mates. One Halloween it snowed about a foot all day long and I had to plead with my Mum to allow me to go out with the mates in my Superman costume. Really was a great Superman costume, well, kinda great. My mum made it and I knew it was pretty goofy looking but it was a costume. I got to go out but only after putting on my heavy mackinaw and rubber galoshes. There went my swell Superman costume. Trudging through the ankle deep snow, we knocked on doors, shouted, well you know, and there was always one or two guys with a bar of soap to make an "X" on screens of people who had no lights on. Hey! That was the "Trick" in "Trick or Treat", right?

Years and years pass and we are passing out candies to the wee daemons knocking at the door. And, sadly, their numbers continued to dwindle with each passing year. Oh, I always buy far too much candy and now most of it is given away a couple days after the great night.

Fewer and fewer.

As I sit here waiting for the next creatures to knock I am wondering to whom I will be giving this batch of pounds and pounds of candy to next week. Seems a terrible thing that fewer and fewer kids today come around and then its only to beg candy and not really enjoy and celebrate that special night, that special night that kids of my age, a zillion years ago, anticipated, planned for, schemed about for weeks ahead of that night. Never mind the history and significant meanings of all the things about Halloween. This is a magic night, or at least it remains so for me.

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Tags: David Stanley, Halloween, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newspaper, On La Mesa

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Comment by Lisa Moore on October 31, 2014 at 9:36pm

Great memories David!  Thanks for sharing.  I have memories of Halloweens in Canada (eastern) when a snow suits under my costume was not too unfamiliar.  It seemed our candy or swag lasted all month!!!

I can almost count on both my hands the number of kids that have knocked on our door in the past 30 yrs.   I almost bought some candy today, but resisted knowing I would be the one eating it.   Again, thanks for sharing your memories!

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