Halloween of nights gone by



Yes, I’m screaming, but not because I fear the ghosts, the goblins, the … what the heck to kids dress up as now? No, my Halloween fear is based upon this:

MY WIFE WANTS ME TO WATCH “Rosemary’s Baby”!


I suppose I will, but I am not fan of Mia Farrow. She’s just so … so .. I don’t know. So … something I find off-putting.

I used to love Halloween, but that was many years ago when I was convinced that candy was an important food group, much like cream soda or Wise potato chips. Not the dopey baked ones they sell now, but the fried, really disgusting, greasy, salty chips. Definitely a food group.

When I was a kid, there were no set hours for Halloween. If the big day fell on a weekday, we’d wear our costumes to Mackay Elementary School and go trick-or-treating the second school let out. If Halloween fell on a weekend, it lasted all day.

I was always a cowboy because I loved the old black and white films of Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson and Lash LaRue. I never saw them in the movies – I’m not that old – but on TV in the late afternoons.

Trick-or-treating lasted until our parents demanded that we come home for the night, but it always went until at least 7 p.m., and later as we got older.

And back then, no one worried about giving out, or getting, home-made goods, although few people bothered with that.

And of course, we were expected to shake our little UNICEF containers and raise money to help kids around the world less fortunate than we.

I did a bit of that and turned in what I got but I knew kids who kept the money figuring they didn’t know any foreign kids, so why not spend it on kids they knew? Perhaps … themselves?

Kids dressed as witches or princesses or Zorro. Davy Crockett was big and I think every kid I knew had a coonskin cap and a toy musket with which to bash Mexicans on the head while defending the Alamo and never dying because Fess Parker didn’t in The Wonderful World of Disney TV production. At the end, he was seen bashing heads with Ol’ Betsy as the screen faded to black, so I assumed he just kept doing it, maybe for a week or a month, maybe forever.

Many years and many books about the Alamo later, I decided he really didn’t die defending the Alamo because he’d surrendered and was executed ala Billy Bob Thornton in the most recent Alamo movie, not the hideous John Wayne thing of the ’60s.

Here in Lyndeborough, the two-hour Halloween window is well-orchestrated, thanks to local volunteers and the police. Somebody driving a tractor – it used to be Wally Holt, then Bo Leavitt but I don’t know who it is now – pulls around a hay wagon filled with trick-or-treaters – dressed, probably, like zombies or somebody from “How I Met Your Mother” – and they stop at house after house and the kids throng the door.

We were always ready for them with tons of candy and sometimes I would sit out on the steps wearing my daughter’s black wool cape with the hood pulled over my head, trying to be frightening but my wife said I looked stupid, not scary.

But for the last couple of years, no one has come to our door, although the hay wagon does stop across the street. Kathy thinks it’s because our door light isn’t bright enough. I don’t think so. We have a lighted pumpkin on the driveway, which should be some sort of signal.

I think it’s because we’re universally hated, but that might be just because I am enormously paranoid.

So this year, we’re not lighting the light and not buying candy and, instead, hiding in the family room watching “Rosemary’s Baby” with, unfortunately, Mia Farrow. It sounds like a good night to drink a LOT of wine with dinner.

The truth is, though, I miss the kids coming, although my wife made me give the cape back to Sara, which is very frustrating. True, it was kind of boring, getting nearly all the kids in town at one time.

But we have good Halloween memories from when there were more kids on our road, including Sarah, Michael and Elizabeth Charpentier and Nathan and Callie Connors.

Many years ago, we got a girl dressed as a princess riding a white horse, a real one, and that was absolutely cool.

My worst Halloween was as a teenager. We would go out wandering the streets, not in costume, not trick-or-treating, just wandering, and one Halloween, who should come upon us but a group that included Robbie Dillon, who lived across the street from me and hung with a vastly different crowd. No big deal. We all said hello and kept walking and Robbie turned and hit me with an egg, right on my new pants that I was wearing for the first time. Ugh.

I like to think that that sneak attack upon me was the genesis of the ban by our two local supermarkets on the selling of eggs to any kids two weeks before Halloween, but it probably wasn’t. Still, the ban did go into effect and if Robbie wanted eggs the next year, he’d have to boost them from his mother.

My best Halloween?

Heck, when you were a kid in the ’50s with unlimited trick-or-treating?

Man, they were all good.