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In the rain, we walked. In the freezing cold, we walked. In the wind, in the sleet. We walked, from house to house to house in the little countryside community of Colton in Henry County.
Ghosts and goblins, princesses and frogs, a corn cutworm, a wild-eyed kid of the jungle with a bone in his hair (yep, we're talking way, way before political correctness called out OHMYGOODNESS! YOU CAN'T WEAR THAT!).
We might have cried, we might have thrown a tantrum on frigid Halloweens when Moms pulled parkas over our wonderful, homemade costumes.
We looked forward to Halloween with nearly as much anticipation as Christmas with the ribbons of hard candies, nuts in the shell, and a tangerine in your stocking.
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In the farming community, candy was a luxury, something you didn't need. Candy cost money that could be used for other things such as school notebooks and pencils.
But, the good news, we farm kids lived within walking distance -- meaning within a couple of miles or so -- of an honest-to-goodness general store where penny candy cost a penny. If you pooled your money with the Kimerer kids, you could splurge on a bag of cheese curls that we took home and crushed in the wedge of a door, open, close, open, close, until the treat was mashed into orange particles of deliciousness. Don't ask why; we just did it.
But on Halloween...oh my word. We would run door to door -- mothers following, scolding "Slow down, someone's going to fall." And sure enough, a clown takes a dive into the dirt. Scrambles up, dusts himself off, and heads to the next houses where the good stuff awaited: homemade sugar cookies, homemade popcorn balls, and honest-to-goodness nickle candy bars, those that cost a dollar for the same size today.
Mothers took turns each year, chaperoning the kids or staying home to welcome the hooligans. Mrs. Bostelman, Mrs. Burkett, Mrs. Kessler and others would welcome us inside, and they would try to figure out who was who behind the masks. We'd giggle at the guesses, loving the attention from our mothers 'friends. And then it was time to hold open your brown-paper bag, and politely say "Trick-or-treat," followed by (seriously) a most sincere "Thank you!"
If Halloween weather turned wicked, we complained not. On we went, providing no lightning bolts flashed in the sky and providing your friends dressed as Dorothy and Toto weren't going to swirl off to Kansas in a super cell of some sort (again, these were the days of gawking out the window to get a weather update; way before any Doppler or Accu-Anything.
Then, after the last stop on our Halloween tour, we'd scurry for home and gather in a circle in the living room. We'd dump out the candy -- no need to check for for safety pins or needles or other such evil. Then, it started, the annual "let's trade." Suckers for candy bars; candy corn for a stick of gum.
So...for some communities to get their Captain Underpants in a bunch, calling off Halloween, shifting it to another day...let's just say, c'mon.
Yes, it's about safety. Always has been.
Generation after generation, we stayed safe on Halloween. We were hearty souls, outdoor kids with skinned knees from climbing trees. We spent winters outside (before days of windchill factors that scared the snowpants off of us). We built snow forts big enough to sleep six, with tuna cans, converted with corrugated cardboard and paraffin into makeshift heat sources.
Mollycoddled? Spoiled? Not us. Cancel Halloween because of a threat of severe weather? Didn't happen.
To the Henry County kids today...Happy Halloween. That is, whenever the Halloween Hum-Bugs set the time/date when you can dash from door-to-door, bubbling with anticipation and happily calling out "Trick or treat!"
Stay safe, my friends. And remember, in the end, Halloween is about childhood memories...okay, sure. Chocolate. It's also about chocolate.