I have never been one who was overly excited about Halloween. Horror movies never were a big thing for me and I absolutely hate sitting at home waiting for the doorbell to ring so that I can hand out candy. Still, looking back over my life I have to admit I have a lot of memories surrounding Halloween.
As a child I lived in what I now think of as rural Idaho. At the time I thought I lived in the big city but your perspective changes as you get older and you realize that the town you grew up in could fit inside Chase Field in Phoenix and it would not even be a sell-out crowd.
Fall weather in Idaho can run the gambit of being slightly cool to being down right frigid. It really didn’t matter what costume you decided to wear trick or treating. By the time the sun set Halloween night everyone went out dressed like Eskimos.
On more than one occasion I can remember going trick or treating around the neighborhood pulled on a sled by my parents. We knew we were having a heat wave if you could actually see a piece of your costume not covered by a hat, coat, snow pants, or facemask.
Maybe global warming was occurring even then because as I grew older I don’t remember the snow as much. I do remember my friends and I plotting a path throughout the city that would net us the most treats on Halloween night.
Even before October 31 we had scoped out the various neighborhoods. We had committed to memory all of the houses who gave great treats in years past and made sure we stopped at the Hostess truck driver’s house early before the Twinkies were all gone.
My parents were typical middle-american heartland style of parents. They were pretty lenient in allowing me some freedom of costume and I never really went for the really outrageous outfits. I was more of a super hero costume kind of guy and was particularly fond of Spiderman and Batman’s sidekick Robin.
Our house was always decorated with pumpkins, which had been carved by my brothers and me. We may have a few corn stalks in the front yard and possibly a scarecrow but that was about it. I remember when I was in fifth grade I somehow talked my mother into building a ghost that covered the screen door in the front of our house. It had two slits that you could slide your hands through to hand out candy. It was the big hit of Halloween and kids at school talked about it for days.
As I got older and beyond trick or treating age I found myself in charge of Halloween decorations and handing out candy. One particular year my parents were gone leaving me in charge. We went all out on decorations.
I ran a wire from the top of the house to a tree next to the driveway. On the wire I mounted a ghost on a pulley. From inside the house I could release the ghost and it would fly down from the house to the tree.
My brother and I went down and found a box the size of a coffin. We cut out a top and had a friend lay inside. We placed the candy bowl on top of the box with a sign that told kids to take one piece. When they reached for the bowl, an arm would jump out of the box and grab the kid.
For two weeks leading up to Halloween we had a scarecrow sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard next to the door. On Halloween night we replaced the scarecrow with a person dressed in the same clothes. People had become accustomed to seeing the scarecrow and paid it no attention. Every few kids that came by the scarecrow would reach out and grab a child.
We ran speakers to the windows and played haunted house music throughout the night. Someone would flip the lights on and off during the sounds of lightning. It was a simple effect but seemed to work really well.
Our house was located in a neighborhood where lots of kids came and went. We would normally go through six or seven large bags of candy each Halloween. For some reason that year we ended up with more candy than we gave out as kids dropped their treat bags and ran from the house.
For years after that Halloween no one would come to our house trick or treating. It always puzzled my parents why there was a sudden change in the number of kids who would visit the house at Halloween.
I remember in high school I was at home when late after trick or treating was over I received a frantic knock on my door. I opened it to find my wife (then my girlfriend) Trina standing there with Steve Gray and Lauren McNeely. They both looked frightened to death.
They explained that they had seen a strange light at a nearby park and decided to investigate. They snuck up to see what was happening and came face-to-face with a satanic ritual. They were sure they were spotted and ran as fast as they could to escape with their lives.
I took them back to retrieve Steve’s car. We could find no sign of the Satan worshipers but Steve, Lauren and Trina swore that they were there. Now every Halloween Trina reminds me of the time she was nearly abducted by followers of Satan. Steve too comments on this every time I see him.
It’s funny, for a guy who never really was into Halloween I seem to have a lot of memories of this holiday. Hopefully I’ll survive another year of dishing out candy and Trina and Steve will once again be safe from the devil worshipers.