The excitement was thick enough in the air, it was almost smothering to my mom and aunt. Nine kids were scurrying about trying to get their chores done. It was a special day! It was Halloween, and that meant “Candy!” The kids could almost taste it. Having candy was a rare treat in those days. It took a massive amount of work and ingenuity to feed a family of seven, and now there were twelve. We always had plenty to eat, but we ate a lot of beans and water gravy.
Aunt Dee and my mom did not know if they could survive the barrage of questions that were fired at them. Those questions were like a machine gun, pelting them from all directions. They didn’t have time to answer one before another one was asked!
“Is it time to go yet?”
“Are we ready?”
“Is it going to be scary?”
“Can I sit in the back?”
Aunt Dee and mom took it good-naturedly. After all, they had a total of nine children, when you added them together, and believe me when I say, “We were together!” All nine of we children slept in the same bedroom. That room always sounded like a barnyard full of goats, jumping and running and playing. We spent a lot of time outside because of the amount of energy we spent having fun! Oh, don’t get me wrong, there was a few hair pulling and knuckle knocking incidents too, but when all the anger left, we all loved each other very much.
We lived in a house that was barely habitable but my mother decorated it with so much love; everyone wanted to come. Mom had five children. I was the oldest and at the time had just turned twelve years old. Her youngest was four years old. Aunt Dee had four boys ranging from six years old to a baby in diapers. Well actually, she had two in diapers.
Aunt Dee was having some hard times, and my mother invited her to stay with us until things straightened out. It required a truckload of patience on everyone’s part, but we made it work.
It was cold as ice, the day of Halloween. Mom saved her brown paper grocery sacks for everything from wallpaper to kindling. This time, they were used to collect the candy. Mom and Aunt Dee put all our coats on us and put socks on our hands for gloves. They set us larger children in the back of our pick-up with our backs to the cab and set the smaller children in front of us so we could hold them while we drove five miles into town. It was also warmer on all of us to snuggle together. The two babies rode in the front with the adults, and away we went to trick.
Every time we pulled up in front of a house, it looked like the owners were invaded. Seven little kids clamored over the side and tailgate of the pickup and raced each other to the front door. Everyone wanted to be first. Not because they were greedy, but because it
was a game and all in fun. We all knew when we collected all the loot; it’d go into a community bowl at home. Mom could make it last longer if she budgeted it, so all of us were ok with that!
It was so cold, our noses were running and our fingers were numb but we didn’t’ want to stop. Halloween only came once a year! I carried the sacks for some of the smaller ones and let them warm in the truck for a while, but they could not stand missing the excitement. They jumped out and ran with us.
Too soon the night was over. On the ride home, the sun had gone down and the temperatures dropped even more. It was a cold ride home but we looked forward to pouring the candy in the big bowl to see how much there was! We got to pick our favorite piece. I spied a popcorn ball right away. My oh my was that a wonderful thing! Homemade cookies and caramel apples lined the bowl.
I’ll be taking my grandchildren tonight. I will take them to something called a safe house, so they will not be served a dose of meanness. The time has passed when caramel apples and popcorn balls will be served. Now, only candy that is unopened in its original wrapper is acceptable. The kids don’t know the difference, but I remember.