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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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