By David Glenn Cox
This is my only non-paranormal Halloween story. This story is more abnormal than paranormal, it’s about how a funny guy thinks about trick or treat. It’s my favorite Halloween story, so don’t stop me if you’ve heard before, I just love telling it. October 31, 1967, we had just moved to Chicago Heights, Illinois. I’m still the new kid in the neighborhood but had plans with friends for the night.
Ten or eleven years old, turned loose on the streets on a school night. To dress as goblins and behave worse, while collecting tribute from the neighborhood. Enter the funny guy, my father. My mother had forgotten to pick up any Halloween candy. She called my dad and asked him to stop and pick some up on his way home. He worked in an industrial park, and the quickest place to stop was at a wholesale candy company.
My dad, the funny guy enters the house as my mother asked, if he’d got the candy. He said, “yeah, there’s couple boxes out in the car.” Boxes? As in, boxes of candy? This was the 1960s and dads didn’t tote, kids tote. They didn’t have remote controls, so they had kids. I’m out the door like a shot, anxious to solve this box of candy riddle. Four, four boxes of candy. Four 6x9x12 boxes of candy.
I carried this treasure into the front room and began opening the boxes. Baby Ruth, Three Musketeers and Butterfingers. About twenty or twenty-five pounds worth. But here’s the funny part, they weren’t fun size or bite sized or even normal sized. They were Movie Theater sized. I was suddenly struck by gold fever and tried to contemplate a scenario to keep this treasure all for myself. Why this fortune carefully managed, could have lasted through the end of the 1960s.
My parents, however, were far too middle class to just hand me a caloric fortune or the keys to diabetes. I would have to go out in the world and make my own candy fortune. This was my dad’s idea of a good joke! He didn’t tell jokes or amusing anecdotes, he lit fuses and stood back and watched the fireworks. I’m thinking, maybe I want to stay home, but the lure of Halloween, chocolate and the pull of youthful recklessness, was far too strong and I’m drawn out the door.
Blocks away, everyone we met had the same story. “Have you heard about the house over on Leonard giving out the giant candy bars?” I actually got tired of saying, “Yeah… that’s my house. My dad’s a funny guy.” When I passed the house, it looked like a juvenile block party. Throngs of costumed children sort of throbbing and milling around the outside of the house, like in the grip of a religious experience. My mother had abandoned closing the door and had pulled her chair into the doorway.
I quickly disappeared into the crowd, lest I be drafted for door duty. When I returned, the boxes were empty, and my mother was tired. My father was beside himself; he’d set the whole neighborhood on fire and turned Halloween on its head. He’d tricked and treated the whole neighborhood, without ever leaving his chair.
But there was another component to it and if your parents grew up in the Great Depression, you probably already understand. They had a desire to overcompensate for the hard Christmases of their childhood. Some people bought new cars; my dad bought Halloween candy wholesale. Surprise! I bet you weren’t expecting this!
The next day at school, I was a celebrity, and my house was a local landmark. I was no longer the new kid, I was “that” kid. The kid who lived in the house that gave out the giant candy bars at Halloween. Flash forwards several months, when vandals slashed the tires on several cars on our street but curiously went right past our house. If you give an adult a giant candy bar, they will forget about it in a few days. But if you give a kid a giant candy bar, he will remember it throughout his long criminal career. After all, they were trick or treaters before they became delinquents.
The next year, my father, the funny guy, did it again. He said that he didn’t want to disappoint the kids with something ordinary. No one had more fun on Halloween than my father.
But when it became my turn, I continued the tradition. I wanted my kids to have that same social status and acclaim. If my house caught fire, some kid would rescue me! Even if just so I could rebuild before October. My wife modified the tradition by adding, “And gum.” If you show up at the door wearing a baseball cap as your costume, you get “And gum.” But if you show up at six years of age dressed as Smurf…here’s your Snickers Bar daring, here take two! If you happen to have your clueless four-year-old baby brother along dressed as a cowboy, dragging his plastic pumpkin up the sidewalk. You definitely get two!
After care and feeding all kids really want is attention and candy. They love to play dress up and love to play in the yard after dark. A ritual of attention and dress up, a ritual with no serious attachment other than fun and candy. Without church or moral obligation. “Let us bow heads and pray, that this Halloween be the biggest haul ever! And Lord if you can find it in your heart. To let that guy, give out those giant candy bars again; I’d really appreciate it!”
We get so few, really special times as a child. So, few special memories. That’s the house where the guy used to give out giant candy bars, and they will remember you forever. Yours is that special house in the neighborhood that all the kids know about. Where those nice people lived who give out those giant candy bars at Halloween. My dad was a funny guy.