Friday, October 27, 2006

More trick than treat

I don't have a lot of fond memories of Halloween trick-or-treating as a kid. Halloween just wasn't the same experience growing up out in the country in rural Eastern Oregon as it was for my classmates that lived in the nearby town of Echo.

While technically I didn't live on a farm, we lived out in the country surrounded by farmland. So it strikes me as ironic that all so many urban dwellers tend to equate Halloween with a rural feel of pumpkins and corn stalks and scarecrows — evoking all this rural imagery. Halloween wasn't a very big deal in our part of the country. At least not that I remember.

That's not to say there weren't attempts at trick-or-treating. But most of our neighbors were several miles down the road. So trick-or-treating meant hopping in the car and having mom drive several miles down the highway that went past our house and then sometimes a half mile or mile down a dirt-and-gravel road to read a neighbor's house.

There were no doorbells to ring. Barking dogs and a cloud of dust announce the pending arrival at someone at the door. And it didn't really matter if you wore a mask or not, you couldn't be anonymous. The neighbors all knew each other's cars (or rigs as we called them on Buttercreek).

"Oh, look Mike, it's the West boys come to trick-or-treat."

What fun is that when everyone can tell who you are in your costume? And who wants to trick-or-treat with their two kid brothers?

As my brothers and I were back in the car, pawing through our candy, and impatiently wanting to get to the next house to add to our sugar stash, Mom was still standing on the porch chatting with the neighbor lady. There's no such thing as a quick visit out in the country.

So, an hour of trick-or-treating would mean a journey of several miles and stops at maybe 3 or 4 houses. I soon learned you'd get more candy by staying home and eating all the leftovers from the candy Mom bought for trick-or-treaters than never showed up at our house. Some years, depending on the age of the offspring in a 5-10 mile radius, there would be no kids show up at all. And if I went to town with Mom on her shopping trip in late October I could help pick out the candy for the dish, which eventually found it's way into my private collection.

One year some neighbors up the creek had a great idea to get around the high-mileage trick-or-treat trips. They hosted a Halloween party for all the kids up and down the creek, complete with a haunted house and lots of activities, like bobbing for apples.

But beyond that, Halloween wasn't much fun for this country boy. I still don't get into it. So don't come trick-or-treating at my door kiddies. I'll probably be at the movies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like home to me. We buy candy every year and never have any trick or treaters. Used to buy the cheaper stuff, but now we make sure and get something we all like!

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