Ah, Halloween. Was talking to my brother on the phone just last week, recalling the days of trick-or-treating in our youth. We could wander all over town garnering an entire bag of tooth decay and maybe a piece of fruit or two. Aunt Tressa always gave us Cracker Jacks, a tradition that continued when my own kids enjoyed the wonders of costumes and trick-or-treat.

With all honesty, I can say that our family members were not among the pranksters - no candy-grabbing from the younger set, no soaping of windows, no egging of cars, no toilet papering of trees, no tipping-over of outhouses, no smashing of pumpkins - at least that I know of. I’m fairly certain we three girls are innocent, but one never quite knows with brothers. Especially when they reach the teen years.

Regardless of our costumes, most often we resembled the Michelin Man, or the Stay-Puff Marshmallow guy, or perhaps the Pillsbury Doughboy, since seldom was it warm enough to wear a costume that could be seen. Usually we were bundled against cold. But there are a few Halloweens I can recall where it was relatively warm. A friend and I went attired as ghosts wearing white sheets with cutout eyes for seeing. That wasn’t my favorite. Hard to see and hard to breathe. Those plastic-y masks with the elastic band thingy that went behind one’s head were even worse than a sheet. Couldn’t see well, couldn’t breathe well, couldn’t talk well and condensation would arise. I preferred being a cowboy with a red hat, a brown vest, and my trusty holstered cap-gun, silver with ivory handles, at my side. Or a witch with a gray wig or a pointy hat and a long black dress. Princess attire was not my bag, though both my sisters were drawn to the frills. To each his, or her, own.

We didn’t have plastic pumpkins, just plain old grocery bags. We knew what hobos were and it seemed like an interesting life - riding the rails, adventuring here and there, only working when we had to - so a battered felt hat and some baggy pants with suspenders were an easy outfit to put on when knocking on end-of-October doors. My young self declared clowns as stupid, so that never happened for me, though one of our kids went as a clown once - watching “Bozo” on WGN when we finally got cable was the cause – but oversized shoes stuffed with newspaper, an oversized shirt with cotton balls as “buttons,” baggy pants, a big red nose and white circles on each cheek were an easy, as well as inexpensive, costume too. I followed my mother’s line when it came to candy. She’d put the fear of God into us to wait until we got home before tasting even one ounce of a Butterfinger bar. We were fortunate though, as there was never anything amiss with the goodies we received.

It’s my older sister’s birthday today - our brothers often taunted her about witchiness when we were kids - though she was far from that. Bookish and a little vague sometimes, but never outright mean, no warts on her chin or bubbling cauldron in her bedroom, either. We’re a full seven years apart in age so were not so close as children as we are now. The age gap narrows with adulthood. It’s the same for me and my younger sister - she’s seven years younger than I am with no buffer of brothers in between. By the time she was trick-or-treating age I’d outgrown it, but enjoyed taking her and her little friend who lived down the block out and about for Cracker Jacks and other sweet stuff.

Funny, but I didn’t believe in ‘haints back then (you’d perhaps call them ghosts), and don’t in the conventional sense now. But we’re all haunted by something, aren’t we? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always wait until October 31 to show up.

Careful this evening now, ‘cause “the goblins’ll get ya if ya don’t watch out!!” Be safe. Let mom or dad check the candy.

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