Remember the good old days when Halloween was at night and you could eat the treats as you went begging?
In the attic we kept a Halloween box. Any piece of clothing or cloth we couldn’t figure out what to do with was eventually put in that box. Then the kids would resurrect the rags and create whatever Halloween costume they wanted.
On Beggars’ Night Daddy stayed home with the littlest ones and passed out treats while Mommy escorted our beggars around the neighborhood to collect treats. I always carried an extra grocery bag so that when their sacks got too heavy they could donate their least favorite candy to the family bag, lighten their load, and share with the ones who stayed home.
One year I almost got arrested when I tried to lighten the youngest one’s load. I was standing under a street light trying to persuade her to loosen her grip on her bag and she was screaming her protest when a police car pulled up and the officer ordered me to “Let the little kid go!”
It took awhile to convince him I was her mother because she kept yelling “No!” and the other kids were a block ahead.
It takes the first-time beggars awhile to get the hang of trick or treat. Once they do, usually somewhere about the age of 2 or 3 years, there’s no holding them back.
One year our house was the first stop for the group that included our almost 2-year-old granddaughter. The others held out their bags and yelled, “Trick or treat!” She held out her bag too. We put some treats in, and they all said “Thank you.” She was not impressed.
However, a few houses later someone gave her a handful of unwrapped candy corn. That she could identify. She sang, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” all the way to the next house where she popped open her bag and sang out, “Trick or treat,” with a huge grin. Needless to say, her bag was the fullest when we returned to our house.
She set her bag down on the floor and dived in with both hands. As her mother tried to get the bag to check the loot, Laura’s howls of protest were much like her mother’s had been twenty some years ago under a street light on Beggars’ Night.
Her mother won by expertly sticking some candy in Laura’s mouth while she checked out the rest of the treats. But, there was no police officer watching her.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Daily Advocate Nov. 8, 1995.