Tale of a Halloween Scrooge

In honor of the season, here’s a Halloween memory . . .

I grew up in a primarily working-class neighborhood. We lived in a big city and our street was full of families with school-age children. There were a few “well-to-do” neighbors, but they were the exception rather than the rule. Most people anxiously awaited their next paycheck.

As a child, I was often told that poor people are the most generous. I’m not sure if that’s absolutely true, but I have witnessed many striking examples of generosity from people of little means, and equally striking examples of stinginess from people who could well afford to be altruistic.

To protect the guilty, I shall refer to a wealthy family in the old neighborhood as the “Smiths”, and to their son, as “Johnny”.

The scenario was the same every Halloween. When we rang the doorbell at the Smith home to trick or treat . . . Mrs. Smith would appear with a large bowl that was about half-full of candy corn.

She’d smile as if she were giving us gold coins, while she carefully dropped TWO pieces of candy corn into each child’s bag. Although we were pretty young, we found this astounding, for we knew that many of our less fortunate neighbors took great pleasure in offering us little bundles of beautifully wrapped treats, even though it must have been a sacrifice for them to do so. Years went by, and although we were always hopeful that Mrs. Smith might change her ways – she never did.

When Mrs. Smith’s son, Johnny, became too old to trick or treat, he took on the role of candy corn dispenser. However, Mrs. Smith was always at his elbow, dramatically urging: “Just two per child, Johnny!”

Johnny!!! Just two!!!”

It’s funny how that memory is so vivid after all these years. It shows how impressionable children can be. At a very early age, I learned that there are people with hearts of pure gold, and there are people who could have hearts of gold . . . but choose not to.




Happy Halloween Week 🙂

Isn’t it amazing how Halloween decorating becomes more and more popular with every passing year? When I was a kid, although it was an important holiday – especially to kids! 😉 – the decorations were much more sparse than the intricate scenes we see today.

Of course, when I was in grade school, the teachers did sprinkle cardboard cut-outs of jack-o’-lanterns and black cats on bulletin boards and throughout the hallways. You might even see an accordian-fold paper skeleton at a Girl Scout Halloween party – but there was very little outside decorating – anywhere!

As it got closer and closer to Halloween night, many families would carve a pumpkin, and that became the most commonly seen home decoration of the era. (Era? Yikes, I sound old!) 😉

The costumes were not as elaborate in those days either, but had much more of a homemade look. Mom’s make-up, her broom, costume jewelry, bed sheets, cardboard boxes, construction paper, poster paints, tin foil, etc. were magically transformed into costumes for glamorous gypsy fortune tellers, witches, ghosts, robots, spacemen, and more!

It was an innocent time – long before we had to worry about some nut tampering with Halloween candy. It was more the norm than the exception for people to create little “goody bags” of treats to pass out to each child. Grownups would buy several large bags of various Halloween candies and create their own special assortments to give!

In fact, as a child, my very favorite “treat” to receive was that little homemade “bundle” of assorted candies. They were either wrapped up in a decorative Halloween napkin that was twisted closed, or presented in a small Halloween-themed paper bag. Oh how I loved to return home after trick-or-treating and discover what was inside each one of those little surprise packages! 😀

When my own kids were little (in the height of the “only accept wrapped candy” warnings), I remember that I felt rather sad that they would never really experience the Halloween of my youth. They typically received a bunch of mini candy bars during their Halloween rounds. Good, but not the same.


The weekly question is:

What are your favorite memories of Halloweens past?