My mind is a cauldron of memories bubbling over, especially appropriate for Halloween. Who does not remember his or her favorite costumes from childhood?
Some of my sweetest moments were savored somewhere between the frozen foods and aisle seven at the local Sunflower grocery store. Mama trailed behind with her buggy filled with tootsie rolls, blow pops, and bubble gum for trick-or-treaters along with the makings for candied apples while I raced ahead to find the racks of costumes.
Miss Dot, busily checking groceries for other customers, was entertained by my exuberance. I flipped through the plastic masks and funny colored wigs for what seemed like hours as Mama’s buggy got harder and harder to push. Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman—all my superheroes were hanging there by the caramel corn and orange jack-o-lanterns. The best part was stretching the rubber band over my head securing the mask of a clown or perhaps Count Dracula over my face and running to show Mama.
Mind you, it was hard to navigate my way through the grocery store with limited vision and only a small opening for me to breathe. When I sneaked up on an unsuspecting Mama somewhere around the potato chips, however, it was worth the effort. We laughed all the way home at how Mr. Charles in the meat department pretended to be frightened or how Mr. Rahaim, the store owner, chased me through the aisles making scary faces.
It was always excruciating to narrow down my costume from all of the choices. It was easier for my brother Tony who just wanted to be the scariest creature available. I will never forget the day he squeezed fake blood all over himself and ran toward Mama literally screaming bloody murder. She was not amused. All those nights we waited for it to get just dark enough for neighbors to light up their doorways, the symbol that alerted all little ghosts, goblins and superheroes to the inevitable handfuls of candy. Yes, the porch light was our invitation to swarm.
Nowadays, kids head off to local churches and schools for fall festivals or things called Trunk-or-Treat. That’s nice, of course, but they are missing out on something, perhaps intangible, but none-the-less real, by not knowing what it was like for all of us lucky enough to live in times past, going from door-to-door with friends, a giggling carload of kids in plastic costumes.
I will turn my porch light on this Halloween, if only for the novelty of it all, and usually a few old-school trick-or-treaters come by. Maybe I will make a batch of candied apples just because Mama loved them so.
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