The excitement of Halloween …

When Fall and the cool nights descended on our neighborhood, we kids thought of Halloween. We were eager to get out of school and get costumed up, as roaming about with friends and heaps of candy spun in our heads. Halloween was an evening full of excitement and expectation.In the days, maybe weeks before, the questions were “What are you going to be for Halloween?” and “What will the trick be if we don’t get a treat?”

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Our costumes were ‘homemade’ … a ghost with a sheet with eyelets over the head, a scarecrow with straw tucked in the sleeves of an old shirt, an old lady with a housedress, a hobo (my regular choice) fashioned with a tattered, over-sized coat and fire-charred cork smeared on my face.Wandering after dark with pillow cases ready, off we went with a group of friends that gathered under the street light. The cold night air was pulsating with kids. Chatter filled the streets. We hoofed from door to door through the shadows, streetlights guiding our way.

But the house lights were lit. Three-decker houses made it easier. Up the stairs we lumbered, collecting with efficiency, our loads getting heavier at each landing. People welcomed us with a smile, a pleasant greeting and a handful of candy … Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, M&M’s, Mr. Goodbar, Hershey Chocolates, Charleston Chew, and Butterfingers. The neighborhood was thrumming with the sights and sounds of kids opening candy wrappers.We never came up empty, so there was never a trick to deploy but for wax. Except for the sling shot or a bean blower, candle wax was the most dangerous weapon we ever carried. We carried those candles not to light the trick-or-treaters way, but to wax windows … cars and storefronts typically. And wax we did, so much on the store windows that you could not see in or out.

At the end of the evening, I was tired and longed for the comfort of my bed. I shuffled the three flights of stairs to our tenement (yes, we lived on the third floor), lugging a full pillow case by my grandmother’s second floor where she was standing and quipped, “Ed-a-wood, you musta be tired in the legs.”

“Yes, Grandma.”By this time, the muscles of my face, set hard by the charcoal, tormented me. It may have been the first time in my life that I realized how wonderful washing my face could be.
The next day, perhaps in a moment of remorse, we went to the stores with single edge razors in hand and asked the owner if they wanted us to remove the wax. “Sure, kids. Go ahead.” He knew. We felt noble and sometimes received a reward, not candy, from the appreciative owner.

I’m not sure what we did with all the candy. Ate some, I guess, at least a few of the Charleston Chews. I recall many pleasures in my youth, Halloween being a highpoint.