58 years ago today, I was born to my parents, in Bakersfield, California. I joke to friends that my mother always told me that when I was born I was more of a trick than a treat. Not actually, but it's good for a laugh.
So, 58 years! Man, where'd the time go? I was looking at an old driver's license of my grandmother's the other day and realized that it was a photo of her when she was 56 years old. I thought that was ancient way back then. Of course, now days it's considered middle age, except for a few businesses that offer a "senior" discount that includes those 55 and above. You bet I take advantage of it, too.
I joke with my students that I am as old as dirt or that I used to have to dodge dinosaurs on the way to school when I was a kid. Some of them are guillable enough to believe it for a minute or two. Then they smile and say, "Ah, Mr. G!" and giggle.
On this, the 58 Halloween of my life, nothing would make me happier than to be old enough once more to go trick or treating in my old neighborhood. The old lady on the corner gave out homemade caramel apples. That was always our first stop. Then there were the stay-at-home moms who made popcorn balls or made up bags of treats tied with a neat little bow. Those homes where the approach to the front door was a scary walk through a jungle of jack o' lanterns and cob webs, graveyards, scarecrows and ghouls. We all huddled close so as to be a little less scared as we made our approach to the door and hollered "trick or treat."
Now days kids don't dare take anything homemade. It has to be manufactured and even then it gets x-rayed or cut up and carefully inspected before it can pass the lips of any little goblin. In our neighborhood, for years now, not a soul has come by our house. We leave the light on. Everyone on our block knows us. But no one comes.
Kids go from store to store in the mall or have parties at church or at home, but trick or treating seems nearly a thing of the past in our neighborhood. It's sad really. But I have lovely shivery memories of the haunted house at the school carnival the week before Halloween, where everyone who made it through the maze of older kids jumping out to scare you while holding their guts (cooked spaghetti) in their hands or their eye balls (grapes in red jello), and we would be handed a slimmy uncooked chicken wing when we exited.
Halloween night the streets were filled with little ghosts and goblins, witches, Superman and other super heroes of the day. Few parents were out and about. We just made the rounds of our neighorhood where every home knew who you were. Then we marched home with our grocery sacks sagging with the loot of the night to be poured out on our bedspread, counted, sorted and traded with other siblings who had too many of your favorite candy. The counting and sorting went on for days until we lost interest. Then, over a few weeks, the bag became the depository for empty wrappers and Halloween was officially over for another year.
Happy Halloween to all my little trick or treater friends out there. I just took a poll of my students at school and 100% of them will be out trick or treating tonight. That's good news! Everyone, please drive carefully.