Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's the Great Candy Shakedown, Charlie Brown

I first posted this back in 2005.  Since only about 3 of you were reading me back then I think it's a safe rerun.

Ok, now forgive me as I strap on my old lady gear. I'm in my rocking chair on the front porch, flowered dress, apron, stockings rolled down around my ankles, gray hair in bun, bowl of candy in my lap, wagging my bony finger at the young 'uns coming across my porch for Halloween treats. Back in my day, when we went trick or treating, or "spookin'" (rhymes with book) as they call it where I grew up, we only went to the houses of people we knew. We ALWAYS said 'trick or treat.' People had to guess who we were under our costumes and we had to perform a trick (sing a song, tell a joke, do something funny or clever) before we got to have sweets and goodies dropped into our bags. Sometimes we were invited in for hot cocoa or popcorn balls. We also made our own costumes and said "thank you."

Flash forward to 1994 when I moved to this area. A neighbor warned me in September that I had better start stocking up on candy now. I asked why and was told our neighborhood was the most popular one in the county for trick or treating. Then she told me she spent over $50 a year on Halloween candy to pass out. I thought she was out of her mind. I bought maybe 6 bags of candy, thinking this would prepare me for heavy traffic. I was blissfully unaware of the madness that would ensue.

The first sign of trouble was when I noticed the entire block out decorating all day. I don't mean just putting a few carved pumpkins on porches or hanging skeleton pictures on front doors. I mean elaborate displays. Graveyards sprang up in front yards. Zombies, corpses, skeletons, witches, and various other monsters came out en masse. Landscaping changed dramatically as spiderwebs, severed body parts, and dry ice machines created eerie scenes. Spooky music filled the air. People actually took the day off work to set up!

We ate dinner, got the kids costumed and the doorbell rang. It was a bunch of kids I did not know who stuck their hands out expectantly. "Ok, Happy Halloween." I said with a smile as I dumped a few goodies into their bags. No "thank yous" as they dashed to the neighbor's house.

My kids were pretty small and a little freaked out by some of the more gruesome decorations in the area so Daddy the Protector walked them around the neighborhood while I stayed at the house to hand out candy. The next sign of trouble was when I had a line 20 deep waiting for candy. Crimony! I was new to the neighborhood, I didn't KNOW 20 kids that lived there. Why were parents letting their kids come to me? I could be an axe murderer or have laced the candy with drugs for all they knew!

Our house was a duplex. The guy who lived in the other half looked at my pathetic store of candy and asked if I had more inside the house. I told him no and he shook his head laughing. NOW, I understood. I had been handing out candy for 15 minutes and had about 12 pieces of my 6 bags left and now had a line that was 30 kids deep. When I plopped the last candy bar into a kid's bag and let the rest know I was cleaned out I thought there was going to be a riot! It was like a bunch of refugees pressing a UN truck carrying water and rice. The neighbor asked me to help pass out his candy since I had been wiped out. For the next two hours I sat as an endless stream of costumed kids paraded across our porch like a conveyor belt of items in a factory line. I was astounded.

Apparently every rural kid in the county gets dropped off in that neighborhood. There were easily 1000 kids running through there. I caught on and the next year started stocking up on candy in September. I also figured out, all on my own, what every one else in the neighborhood does too. We buy dum-dum, smarties and other cheap stuff for the hordes of kids we don't know and save the candy bars and good stuff for the kids who live in the neighborhood.

We lived in that neighborhood for 10 years and moved to an outlying area 8 years ago. This neighborhood considers it busy if 6 kids knock on the door.  Tonight I'll be at work but the two neighbor kids will stop and be allowed to take fistfuls from our candy bowl which will later be demolished by those in this house.  Of course, since nature gave us an early trick of 8 inches of snow over the weekend I hope all the little ghosts and goblins have costumes that fit over snowsuits.

11 comments:

Craig said...

Glad you're not among the power-less, altho 8 inches is kinduv a nasty trick, when it's not even November yet. . .

In our town, Trick-or-Treating happens between 6-8 pm; after that, it's over. And when we're out of candy, we just turn off the porch light and shut the door. . .

When I was a kid (the last time I actually went trick-or-treating was probably when I was 11 or 12), my brother and I would go out for a couple hours (without an adult escort), and cover roughly half of the town. We'd end up with a pillowcase about half full. Ah, good, good times, those. . .

WordVer = 'denta'; really. . .

secret agent woman said...

I don't mind kids coming into the neighborhood form elsewhere if there isn't good trick or treating where they live. It's no fun living where people don't really hand out candy.

silly rabbit said...

Oh my! I've never been rushed like that. Ha.
The town where I used to live stopped doing door to door trick or treating. We had a Halloween carnival instead where they kids played games for candy prizes.
Last year was my first year here and we got maybe a dozen trick or treaters. Gratefully they were all polite and said the required phrase.

lime said...

craig, the snow was downright shocking. i've seen it and still struggle to believe it.

secret agent woman, i don't mind kids from out of the neighborhood within reason but it was really a bit much at the old neighborhood. 1000 kids in 2.5 hours is no exaggeration. i felt like i needed a home equity loan just for candy. i've never seen anything like it anywhere else.

silly rabbit, i wouldn't mind a few dozen trick or treaters. the carnival you describe sounds very cute and fun too.

Beach Bum said...

Things are different at my house this year for Halloween. My wife will be taking our daughter, Darth Wiggles, out for trick-or-treating with the mother of one her friends.

I will be staying home and passing out candy. Since I am not liked my the various species of pod people I live around I expect a lot of candy left over.

Retiredandcrazy said...

I am not plagued by trick or treaters because my house is away from the village. In fact if someone knocked on my door at night I would probably have a heart attack thinking it was someone come to do me harm!

Bijoux said...

Wow! And I thought getting 100 kids in 2 hours was 'busy!'

Been feeling sorry for you all weekend!

Hilary said...

I've lived here for 27 years and watched our numbers drop from about 150 kids down to the current 30ish kidlets. A few years ago we discovered that a nearby street goes all out like your old neighbourhood did. Walking on that street is like strolling through a festival. The folks who stop by there to take a look are about 6 deep on the sidewalk. It's unreal so I can easily imagine what your old place was like.

Too bad about the snow but kids never notice what the weather is doing on Halloween.. it's the parents who walk with them that feel it. ;)

Kat said...

THAT is awesome!!! I would love to see that many kids out trick or treating, although we do have a bunch in my area too. And I never know them all. Only a few. And I don't care how old they are either. Some people get upset when teenagers come to their door but I love it. If you are in a costume you can have candy. Never too old. BUT, I ALWAYS make the the people say TRICK OR TREAT really loudly. ;)

Happy Halloween!

Suldog said...

We always said, "Trick or treat!", and we always said, "Thank you!" It would fry my onions if a kid came to my door, said nothing, and - should I decide to give him or her candy, anyway - didn't even give a thanks.

Jocelyn said...

I ADORE Halloween and all the little mugginses running around so excitedly, getting hepped up on the potential of an amazing haul.

It's the only holiday I like because it's so honest that way.