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Life, Liberty, and Monsters

The time has come when the scariest, meanest, nastiest, most despicable monsters around will be roaming the streets. These monsters will be issuing dire threats to their enemies and promising future well-being and good treatment to their contributors.

You are free to decide for yourself whether I’m talking about Halloween or the impending presidential elections.

Since we’ve pretty much reached the point where nothing that can be, or will be, said will change the die-hard political fan, I think I’d rather talk about Halloween instead. The main reason is that with Halloween I can at least look back on happier times. That ain’t so with presidential elections.

Halloween used to be pretty straightforward at our house. We lived in the country and walking around the neighborhood was an activity that could take a week or more, that is, if you wanted to hit more than one house.

There’s just not a lot of suspense in going out of the house through the carport, walking around to the front door, and ringing the doorbell. I already knew what kind of candy I was going to get because I had seen it on the coffee table in the living room.

What we did was take our show on the road and go trick or treating with our cousins while mama and Aunt Jean drank coffee and discussed current events. Really, doesn’t ‘discussing current events’ sound a lot better than ‘swapping gossip’?

There wasn’t a whole lot of variation in our costumes, either. I generally bounced between dressing as a hobo or a cowboy. We used paper grocery bags to collect our goodies.

Uncle Leo and Aunt Jean lived on Twenty-First Avenue and our boundaries were Twenty-fourth Avenue to the south, Sixteenth Avenue to the north, Third Street to the west, and First Street to the east. That gave us thirty-five blocks of prime real estate to cover but my legs were too short and my attention span was too short and my curfew was too short. I never made it to every house that was inbounds for us.

The ‘older’ boys, my cousins Chris and Bill, and my brother, had to bring me and my cousin Lin back to the house by eight o’clock, so they could go back and trick or treat for another hour.

Nowadays, sensible adults don’t let young kids out of the house unsupervised on any day of the year, let alone on Halloween. I don’t blame them.

These days you see a lot of ‘Halloween Carnivals’ in various schools, and some Baptist Churches have ‘Noah’s Ark Parties,’ which are kind of fun. The Methodists in Dooly County have ‘Trunk or Treat’ gatherings.

I haven’t decided whether or not I’m in favor of the trunk or treat merrymaking or not. There’s just something about teaching a kid to get candy or other treats out of someone else’s car that rankles the skin of a retired child abuse investigator.

I know it’s all in fun and I know there’s lots of adult supervision, but it still reeks to me a something that might, at some future point in time, lead to inappropriate behavior.

In this part of Dooly County, Smyrna Baptist sponsors a hayride, where all the kids, and more than a few adults, climb into a converted cotton wagon, and get hauled around to several houses in the neighborhood collecting their treats.

It makes for a fun time for everybody involved and, for the host homes, we deal with twenty-five trick or treaters in thirty seconds or less. You can’t beat that with a stick.