Updated date:

My Last Trick-or-Treat

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

my-last-trick-or-treat

The End of the Fun

How old were you when you last trick-or-treated? I asked my husband this question and he told me a tale of he and his best friend deciding at 13 that they were going one last time to dress up and get candy but they both felt that they had outgrown the charm of it. He said they never went again.

It is sad when that ends. It is more than just about getting a treat from neighbors. It is about the costume and the effort of joining in the spookiness of the season. It is a milestone in the passing of the seasons and marks the coming of the Christmas holidays. There is something about the chill in the air and the smell of fireplaces coming to life and roasted apples. But it is a thrill to walk up to a stranger’s door and say give me this or I’ll give you that. We never played tricks on people like some and as a youth, I forgot really that the threat was there. Back then people readily gave candy. I remember one year when a man came to the door and he had just given out all the candy they had. I was ready to thank him and leave but he couldn’t stand seeing us go away empty-handed so he gave each of my siblings and me a shiny silver dollar. I had never seen a silver dollar before that day. It was a treat beyond treats.

“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.”

— Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow

Some of our homemade costumes

Some of our homemade costumes

Those Who Ruin The Fun

In every community, there are those who insist on ruining the fun for everyone. I was a preteen the first time I heard news reports that someone had put razor blades in apples they were giving out and others were lacing candy with drugs. My mother began looking through our candy before allowing us to eat it and I never revealed that I already at a piece or two on the way home. It seemed she was already getting the idea that it was too dangerous to trust people we don’t know but because nothing of that sort had happened in our neighborhood, I usually talked her into letting us go ahead and go. I promised to stay on our street and close to home.

my-last-trick-or-treat

Too Old For Trick-or-Treat

I was 13 and Mom was already making noises like I was too big to be trick or treating but I was the oldest and without me, she would have to go along with the younger kids. That year I talked her into letting me take them one last time, thinking this would be my last trick-or-treat. How prophetic that turned out to be.

I dressed up like a princess with a tall conical hat and my brother was a werewolf and sisters were witches. We always made our own costumes. There were some readymade costumes for sale back then. Not like today, but a few. But my mother, the seamstress, would never hear of such a waste of money. I turned out to be just like her.

my-last-trick-or-treat

Hoodlums

That year there were a bunch of teen boys who had nothing better to do than to ruin the fun of the children in our community. They must have been drinking because they didn’t seem to be using the common sense you get from pure air.

I first noticed them when we were more than halfway down our street. I had planned on taking my siblings down one side of our street and back up the other side of the street toward home. We lived in a rural community on the very edge of town. We had no sidewalks on our street but we knew to keep to the roadside where the gravel was. My siblings and I hadn’t gone far, only about 6 or 7 houses when the dark green pick up truck barrel by us with maybe 4 teen boys in the back laughing and throwing something at houses and people on the street. I didn’t want to turn around yet because I knew we should get more candy but these boys weren’t driving safely. They were driving way too fast and swerved a lot. As they drove by again they yelled obscenities at us and other trick-or-treaters and laughing like inflicting pain was such fun. That’s when I decided we needed to turn around for home.

What Is It

I wondered what they were throwing. It made a funny noise when it hit the houses. Not like rocks but more like something breaking. Then we passed one of the projectiles on the street side. I looked down and saw it. It was eggs. They were throwing eggs at the children. We needed to pick up the pace and get home. These guys in the dark green pick-up truck had sped by us 3 times and I could hear them coming again from behind me. I gathered up the kids and turned my back to the street to shield them. The truck sped by with boys laughing and yelling. That’s when I got it.

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”

— Edgar Allan Poe, American Writer

my-last-trick-or-treat

Searing Pain

They hit me right in the center of the back with an egg going at least 40 miles per hour. It was like being hit with a hammer. I needed to get the kids home. My brother was only 5 at the time. What if they had hit him or one of the girls? We ran for home. Each time I heard that truck coming we waiting in the shadows until they passed and we ran again. Finally, at home, my mother was livid. She examined my back and saw I had a welt the size of your fist that didn’t go down for 3 days. It was excruciating. The 5-year-old and 7-year-old were concerned they didn’t have much candy. The 11-year-old was torn between worry for me and her meager hall.

My mom announced that was it. No more trick-or-treating for any of us. After that year she created a party, bought our own candy, invited friends, but never again did any of us trick-or-treat.

Final Thoughts

Isn't that a shame? Why do some feel compelled to ruin it for others? What joy can there be in inflicting pain on others? I didn’t have much use for boys after that. I was 18 before my first date. Somehow I figured most men were all as stupid and mean as the boys in the back of that green truck.

My brother was only 5 that year and never saw another magical night of going to stranger's houses and getting treats. It's pitiful that there are people who feel compelled to destroy the fun of others.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

William Kovacic,

You are probably right about that. I will never know since I never got involved in those night walks up the street again. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

Marie Flint,

As always you have enough information there to write your own article on the subject. It's very interesting that you can remember so many of your costumes and exploits. I guess mine weren't that memorable until the last one. Thanks for sharing and commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

Kalpana Iyer,

Yes, that is twisted thinking alright. I was afraid all boys were like that and didn't want anything to do with them for many years. When I finally did get married, my first husband turned out to be a wife-beater and that solidified my opinion of men in general. It took a lot of therapy and sweet treatment by my current husband to change my opinion. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 01, 2020:

A very well put together article, Denise. It truly is a shame, but maybe it worked out for the best. Things seem to escalate. The following year may have been much worse. Who knows? Thanks for sharing your Halloween thoughts.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on October 31, 2020:

This is a thoughtful article, Denise. I, too, quit trick-or-treating after age 13. When a little 4-year-old boy at the door was giving out the candy, I told myself, "no more."

School parades were fun. In kindergarten, I didn't have a costume, but I remember I was dressed in my red dress with a big black silk bow at the neckline. I'm pretty sure my grandfather had bought a number of dresses for me before he died. I think the red dress was one of them. He passed when I was only four, but you know--always buy bigger sizes for growing children. So, by the time I was five, I fit into that red dress.

In first grade, I was a black cat, complete with tail that I had to carry because it was too easily stepped on. My Aunt Betty had loaned me the costume. I think she had made it too.

In second and third grade, I was a witch. I used two different masks for the different years, but they were similar, the one in 3rd grade being scarier colors.

I don't remember anything specific about other years, except my two cousins, Greg and Abe, were companions while trick-or-treating. My Aunt Emele drove us into town. She would always measure our candy in a bowl to see who had received the most candy. We should have been equal, my brother, my cousins, and me, but, somehow, we measured a little differently. I think my cousin Greg usually had the most.

During that last year of trick-or-treating, I created my own scarecrow costume. I gathered some binder twine for the hair, had a beat-up old straw hat, a funny pair of glasses with a big nose, a too big shirt and scruffy blue jeans. I remember my Aunt Emele laughing at me; she thought it was a great costume!

We had been warned at the end of the school day by my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Fairless, not to soap windows because an elderly man had had a heart attack trying to clean the soap streaks off his windows that kids had done as a Halloween trick.

My mother told me stories about how, in her time, the neighbor kids had dismantled a hand plow and hung the pieces in a tree. The nuts and bolts were carefully gathered in a pile beneath the tree. She also told me about the time her brother, my uncle John, decided to give "tricks" for some costumed treaters. He took a tub of water and threw it on them! While my mother never told me about her exploits, my aunt Alice mentioned that my mother, in fact, did soap windows! (Sigh.)

I also remember eating candy until I was sick to my stomach. So much for Halloween. I prefer All Soul's Day on November 1st.

Thanks for sharing!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 30, 2020:

I'm sorry that you and your siblings had such a bad experience with trick-or-treating. It's horrible when people spoil children's enjoyment at Halloween. The scary situation and the injury that you experienced must have been very unpleasant.

To answer your first question, I never went trick-or-treating. When we came to Canada from the UK, I was in my mid-teens and decided not to participate in the activity. My family didn't know what trick-or-treating was, but one of our new acquaintances kindly explained the custom to us.

Kalpana Iyer from India on October 30, 2020:

That's so disappointing what happened to you. Common sense is not very common. I don't know how people can find humor in inflicting pain on others. Something terribly wrong in their lives that they think this is what qualifies as fun.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 30, 2020:

Abby Slutsky,

I should have added one photo of my mom as Morticia Addams. She even got a long black wig for that one. She was amazing. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 30, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

It was a nightmarish experience. Gave me bad dreams for a long while. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 30, 2020:

Linda Lum,

When my kids and I moved out to the country with no neighbors nearby, we tried to celebrate Reformation day and have roasted marshmallows, hot cocoa, and movies about Martin Luther but the kids felt deprived. If you want to bypass Halloween you need to never have gone there with kids. I am a bit happier that we aren't in a "traffic" zone where the kids frequent. It's a different world we live in today. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Abby Slutsky from America on October 29, 2020:

It is a shame you had a painful final Halloween, and unfortunately, it is also probably your most memorable. Unfortunately, bad events seem to stay in our memories. (The costumes look great, though. Your mom was talented.) That is around the time my children stopped collecting candy too.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 29, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

It is a shame. I hope your holiday is a safe one. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 29, 2020:

RoadMonkey,

Oh no. It has started already? What gets into people? I'm so sorry that is happening in your neighborhood. This is the downside of the holiday, isn't it? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 29, 2020:

Bill Holland,

You know, my friend, we turn off our porchlight also. Before Covid, our routine was to go to a live theater performance with the local theater group so we weren't even home. It is sad. I remember getting caramel apples and popcorn balls too. Those were the days, weren't they? That is something our grandkids will never experience unless we make the caramel apples and popcorn balls ourselves. I guess everything changes but some things are just sad changes. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 29, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

I couldn't believe it as it was happening myself. Boys with time on their hands and nothing constructive to do. Cruel. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 29, 2020:

Devika Primić,

I agree with you. My sister and I found making fun for the younger ones was the focus of all our Halloweens after that. We created weird food and "haunted houses" really were only boxes taped together with strings hanging down for "webs" and glow in the dark spiders and such. We had more fun working on and preparing fun for the others that we older kids didn't miss the trick or treat. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 29, 2020:

John Hansen,

You said it very well. They have no life and maybe no good parents to let them out raising Cain like that. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 29, 2020:

I think that I was about 13 the last time I went trick or treating, and we had no fear of eating homemade goodies. The story of your last time is sad for you and your younger siblings.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 29, 2020:

Denise, this one puzzles me. I'm a Lutheran, so for us October 31 is Reformation Day. No costumes and no trick-or-treating when I was growing up. The home that my husband and I own is tucked back in the woods on a private dirt road. No one EVER comes to our porch. Too spooky.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 29, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's a shame that others can spoil things so much.

RoadMonkey on October 29, 2020:

Such a shame. Some teens went out trick or treating last night around here. Some people chased them off because they were not wearing covid masks. After that, one of them smashed kids pumpkins that had been left out on windowsills. That got more people annoyed and the police were called.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 29, 2020:

I think I was 13 or 14. I don't remember any terrible experiences during my years of trick or treating. I do remember we would get homemade treats like popcorn balls and brownies, and we never hesitated to eat them. Seems like it was in the 70's that razor blades in treats became popular among the seriously demented.

Now we don't even encourage it. We turn off our porch light on Halloween, and I find that sad.

Have a brilliant Thursday, my friend, and blessings always

bill

Lorna Lamon on October 29, 2020:

I have always loved Halloween and 'dressing up' for me was the best part. We have always lived in the countryside which is quite remote, so instead of walking miles to the nearest farm, the community got together and had a Halloween party for the kids.

I can't believe that anyone would want to spoil a child's fun, particularly on Halloween, and it is a reflection on these thugs and how toxic they are.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 29, 2020:

Denisee this is interesting and Halloween is such a great celebration. These experiences one learns from and sees a better way to have fun.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 28, 2020:

That was a sad way to put an end to what could have been a fun night, and all trick or treating afterwards. I will never understand the thrill hoons get from ruining things for others. They must feel the need to do something to supplement their otherwise sad boring lives.