Over the years, I’ve had many Halloween related memories. As grand as some of my adventures have been as an adult, I think the best memories are from the years that I was young enough to still go trick-or-treating.
As a kid, you tend to feel the build up to Halloween even more. You watch as the leaves continue to fall, decorations slowly go up, and the pumpkins on the porches transform into jack-o-lanterns.
I realize that things are different now. Often, children trick-or-treat at the mall instead of their neighborhood or even in broad daylight. Well, things were different in the 1970s. Back then it was still quite common to see packs of ghosts and ghouls, roaming the streets, in search of treats.
Now as a youngster, the mere act of knocking on a stranger’s door and being rewarded with candy was quite a thrill in itself. However, there were certain people who went the extra mile to make things really special and those memories stay with me to this day.
We had one family who, instead of giving candy, would hand out nickels to all of the trick-or-treaters. It sounds rather funny, because a nickel wasn’t much (even in 1977), yet I clearly recall that every child in the neighborhood made it a point to not miss out on “the house that gives out money”.
One neighbor would have a life-sized scarecrow sitting outside his door, with spooky music playing in the background. On one year in particular, our neighbor removed the scarecrow on Halloween night, dressed in its clothes, placed a jack-o-lantern on his head, and sat himself down in the same spot.
We had one older couple down the street who always took pictures of all the kids. They would set up a 35mm camera and snap pictures, just as the kids said “trick-or-treat”. They also gave out little prizes for their favorite costumes of the night.
I always thought that this was very sweet. Sweeter still (though quite sad) was the fact that the husband continued this practice for a couple of years, after his wife had passed away. It’s unfortunate but I suppose that if someone were to do that today, parents would be terribly alarmed at having someone take pictures of their children.
My favorite trick-or-treating memory of all time was one that parents probably should have been concerned about, there just didn’t happen to be any adults around at the time. I grew up in Henrietta, NY (a suburb of Rochester). It was a quiet little neighborhood and as such, parents weren’t afraid to let kids go off on their own (so long as they remained relatively close to home).
I believe it was 1981 and I was 11 years old at the time. My buddy Jason and I were wrapping up a long evening of trick-or-treating. Just as we were about to head back home, we stumbled upon a curious house.
The lights were all out (the international signal for “we don’t want trick-or-treaters) but there was very loud “haunted house music” coming from the house. We looked at each other and shrugged. Figuring that it would be a shame to miss out on any extra candy, we proceeded down the driveway, to the house.
Arriving at the front door, we were met with another strange sight. The door was wide open and there was still no sign of light from within the house. I was a rather timid youth and was quite ready to turn around and leave. However, before I could, Jason reached up and pressed the doorbell.
Immediately, from within the blackness of the house, we heard a woman calling to us and the sound of chains rattling. At this point we were too startled to move so we just stood there, staring into the blackness.
“Thank you for coming boys. You must save me from my master!” she said.
Our 11 year-old eyes were out of their sockets, wanting dearly to stare at her barely covered breasts but feeling the urge to run screaming into the night at the same time.
Then things got really weird. Now in full view, it became clear that the woman had a collar around her neck and was tethered by a chain. The chain was held by a large, bare-chested man who emerged from the dark.
The man held the chain, preventing the woman from “escaping”, and proceeded to stuff a TON of candy into our bags. With that done, he shut the door and we ran off into the night.
Neither of us mentioned that to our parents, for fear of freaking them out. We certainly didn’t want to be prevented from trick-or-treating on our own, in future years.
Well, thank you for reading. If you’ve read this far, I’m betting that you have some great Halloween memories of your own. Please take just a moment and leave a comment. I would love to hear your tales. We’re less than 100 days from Halloween, it’s not too late to make sure that you can create some memories this year!