Halloween is almost here and in just a few short days, superheroes, pirates and princesses alike will be scouring the neighborhoods, ringing doorbells and collecting their sugary bounties.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was at the age when the anticipation of Halloween was second only to that of Christmas Eve. When I think back to my childhood years and my memories of Halloween, our costumes were not purchased in any store, but made by Mom in the spare bedroom she called her sewing room.
Whether we were hobos, cowboys, pirates or army men, every year we looked forward to dressing up and trick-or-treating.
Back then, small-town life was something to behold. Those were the days when people knew their neighbors.
We went trick-or-treating door to door in our neighborhood and had to be home when the street lights came on.
After that, we’d eat dinner and Mom and Dad would drive us to a few of their friends’ neighborhoods around town. They’d park the car along the street, and the sight of ghosts and goblins blanketing the neighborhood en masse was something to behold.
At the end of the night, back at home, we’d cast our bags of treasure across the table and behold the wondrous sight that lay before us.
The variety of candy was astounding--Bazooka bubble gum, foil-wrapped chocolate coins, candy bars of every variety, M&Ms, candy corn and every kind of Brach’s candy known to man.
But that wasn’t all. There were also things one would never see today. Yummy candy apples, popcorn balls, chocolate-dipped pretzels and Rice Krispie treats were considered the grand prize of Halloween swag.
No one worried about whether or not the candy was safe. No one back then would even think of doing such terrible things. Those were the days.
As the years passed by and we grew older, we took pleasure in other Halloween activities as well. My junior year of high school, our FFA chapter hosted a Halloween party for local kids at one of our member’s family farm.
One of my favorite memories of the night was the hayrides. John Deere tractors pulled flatbed trailers stacked with straw bales, children and parents through the haunted pumpkin patch.
We had so much fun dressing up as zombies and slasher victims covered with fake blood and makeup and creating our own version of the final scene from a scary horror movie.
We took demented pleasure in scaring the younger children as they rode by on the hay wagons as we reenacted the most epic of zombie apocalypses ever seen.
Once the ride reached “The Great Pumpkin Patch,” the children were allowed to scour the field and pick their pumpkin right off the vine for the carving contest held later that night.
While the younger trick-or-treaters bobbed for apples and played “Pin the Tail on the Black Cat,” the older kids tested their way-finding skills through the haunted barn and straw bale maze.
The pumpkin-carving contest, with prizes for scariest, funniest and most original designs, was a huge success and netted more pumpkin seeds that any of us could ever bake and eat.
The end of the night was capped off with costume contests for different age groups, and everyone left with a huge bag of candy. It was amazing to see the community come together and the kids have a great time.
It is memories such as these that sometimes make me long to live in a small town again.
Do you have a favorite childhood memory of Halloween? If so, and you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween!
Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on Twitter at @CDGLA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.