Down East 2013 ©
Halloween was one of my favorite holidays when I was a kid. I mean, people give you candy for dressing like a princess. What’s not to like about that?
‘Course, back then it was dicey, weather-wise. I remember more than one tearful Halloween trudging from house to house in the slush. It wasn’t the lousy weather that got me down. It was having to wear a winter coat over my princess dress, rubber boots in place of patent leather dress-up shoes, and my tiara stuck on top of a stupid, knit hat. It’s hard to recover from a fashion tragedy like that. But candy helped!
My sister Irene and me, we trick-or-treated all over town back then. And folks gave us great treats. Real candy, you know? None of this granola bars and all natural fruit chews kind of stuff. We’re talking full size Hershey bars, homemade brownies, and of course Mrs. Dugal’s candied apples.
Nowadays, Halloween makes me feel, oh, a little bittersweet, I guess. It reminds me how things have changed. Charlie and me used to get a least a hundred trick-or-treaters at our house. Now, there’s hardly enough kids to bother buyin’ candy for. ‘Cause what happens is, Charlie and me end up eating whatever candy’s leftover, which we need like a hole in the head. So the last few Halloweens, we ended up goin’ out to dinner.
People are just more afraid nowadays, you know? Even up here in Mahoosuc Mills. So, there’s a costume party for the kids down to the Community Center, and then they go trick-or-treating to the businesses downtown, their parents trailing close behind. Over to Bouchard’s farm they have a little haunted-hayride type thing, which is nice. But gone are the homemade pirate and gypsy costumes. Kids today are all decked out in I don’t know what all. Can’t even remember the last time I saw Casper the Friendly Ghost made of just a sheet with two holes cut out for the eyes. But I’m dating myself!
My niece Caitlin’s thirty now. Too old for trick-or-treating, of course. But she always seems to have a Halloween party or two to go to. I’ve probably told you how creative Caitlin is. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff she’s come up with. Last year, get this: she went as tooth decay. No kidding! Tooth decay.
First, she made a cape out of black garbage bags. She painted it with little sayings like “Forget Floss,” “Plaque Power, “Down With Dentists,” and “Support Cavity Production.” Caitlin stuck candy wrappers all over the cape, too. Then, she got a bunch of toothbrushes and softened them up in the oven. She bent ‘em into different shapes, and once they hardened back up, made them into a necklace by stringing ‘em together with floss. Oh, and she made earrings using them little portable floss sticks. Caitlin dressed up in black leggings and a black top and painted her face sort of yucky green, with dark circles under her eyes, blacked-out teeth and her hair teased into a rat’s nest. Never seen anything like it!
The last time I went trick-or-treating was in eighth grade, I think. I was sitting there doing my homework Halloween night, and I kept getting distracted by the sounds of kids laughing outside, our doorbell ringing and visions of Mary Janes and Tootsie Pops dancing in my head. Then I thought, Hey, I’m short. Nobody’ll know the difference. To heck with homework! So, I put on my Dad’s hunting vest and his orange hat with the ear flaps, and my big Sorel boots. Then, I tied a bandana over my nose and mouth, and off I went.
Nobody thought anything of it. And I come away with a pretty good haul, too. Got one of Mrs. Dugal’s candied apples, that I remember. Hmm, biting into that sweet, crunchy coating, the hint of cinnamon and the tang of tart, juicy Macintosh apple. That’s what Halloween tastes like to me.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
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