Reflections from a Pumpkin’s Eye

It was a perfect night for Halloween this year.  A warm sunny day that turned into a cool evening and once the sun went out of the sky, it became chilly.  You could step on dry, crunchy leaves underfoot and there was just enough of a night time breeze to send some of them tumbling down the street along with this year’s crop of trick or treaters. 

It would be fun to be a kid again and go out with the old gang.  Growing up in Memphis, TN back in the mid 50s meant that the houses in our sub-development all looked mostly the same, they would be close together and there would be blocks and blocks of housing developments to hit up for candy.  We used pillow cases back then, as plastic bags were still in the future.  And those pillow cases came back filled!  The costumes back then were limited to a fright mask from Woolworths or an old sheet.  Now, you can plunk down $50 to $60 for a ready-made costume of the latest action hero or rock star and close to that amount on the candy.   I miss Peanut Butter Logs.  Can’t find them anymore.  Some parents get inventive, making their kid’s costumes, but that takes time few of us can spend nowadays.  I spent two hours thirty years ago making a two foot long wooden pirate sword and another time turned my step-daughter into a life-sized roll of toilet paper.  

Kids out in the rural country either don’t bother trick or treating as the distance between houses is just too great and the street lights are few and far between.  I guess a lot of parents can carpool the kids into town and let them out for an hour and pick then them up at an appointed place and time.  When you got old enough to leave the parents behind, you knew you were grown up.  You’d meet up with some of your friends and swarm over the neighborhoods.  But as the evening progressed, your numbers dropped off until there were three, then two of you and finally, you were out there in the night all alone.  Those darkened solitary streets take on a different aspect and help you decide to get back into your familiar neighborhood and back into your own house. 

The carving of the pumpkin has been phased out over the years as well.  Now you can buy one and just plug it in and box it up until next year when Halloween is over.  Some die hards still take the time to carve one out and put it on display and ‘good for you’ for keeping that tradition alive!  You can buy special scoop spoons and serrated carving knives and even download blueprinted directions to help you get real intricate so you can put Mt Rushmore on your gourd.  I’m at the point where I buy one and just put it on the front steps minus any carving at all, next to some small electronic monsters I glued to a wooden frame years back.  Set up time takes twenty seconds from the shed to the front yard. 

I’ve already been to the store twice this year as I made the same mistake again.  Buying too little candy too early in the season.  Yes, we’ve eaten most of the good candy ourselves.  Gone about three days ago.  The new batch sits in a bowl on the front living room table, waiting for some of the neighborhood kids to come by.  We’ve seen years when the candy went like lightning.  But mostly, by 9pm there’s a half a bowl left and those lucky kids who come by later get heaping handfuls of the stuff.  By 9:30, it’s a wrap, turn off the lights and head for bed, just in time to hear the doorbell ring and some little voice calling out, “Twick or Tweet!” 

Trunk and Treat at the Lamar Library!!  Kids of all ages came out in costume; some parents got into the spirit too, and assembled at the east parking lot of the Lamar Library yesterday evening for a trunk and treat event.  Mary Poppins, the Lamar Fire Dog, Jason in his hockey mask, now apparently a dad, and several other well known monster-type characters, plus fairy princesses milled around the lot, bobbing for apples, throwing bean bags at a pumpkin target and having a good time before dark fell around town and it was time to go out and have fun in spooktacular fashion.

By Russ Baldwin

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