One Good Halloween

halloween-1966A store-bought mask and a plastic pumpkin used to be all a kid needed for Halloween. At least that was all this kid needed in 1966. I was 4 years old when I embarked upon my first Halloween adventure.

I don’t recall whether I had given my mother any indication of what I wanted to “be” for Halloween. And I can’t confirm whether I had any input into the selection of my final costume. Most likely my mother chose the blue-haired nurse mask and plastic pumpkin I ended up with from a sale rack at the local dime store. But it didn’t matter. I was going trick-or-treating for the first time, tagging along with my older sister and her friend, a neighbor girl who lived just down the gravel road and up the county highway from our farm. I felt quite grown up to be going somewhere and doing something with the big girls.

We were three farm kids going house to house in the small town where my sister’s friend went to school. I imagine it was exciting to hike in the dark, collecting candy contributions for my plastic pumpkin. (This happened 50 years ago, so an exact account of the evening is unlikely.) However, I do recall one lady asking us where we were from, because she didn’t recognize us. When my older sister and her friend told the lady that we were country kids who didn’t live in town, she yelled at us for trick-or-treating in her neighborhood. But otherwise, the local citizens didn’t mind giving us candy.

When I was school-age, I went trick-or-treating once or twice with a grade school classmate. But most Halloween nights, like other nights, I was home on the farm, helping milk our dairy cows. Halloween just wasn’t that big of a deal for me.

Today most kids seem far more into Halloween than I ever was, with elaborate costumes and industrial strength candy bags year after year. That probably was true back in 1966 as well. I guess I’m just unlike most kids. One good Halloween is enough for me. A blue-haired nurse mask and a plastic pumpkin selected by my mother sustained me then. The memory sustains me still.

Laura Sternweis

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