And the silken sad uncertain rustling…

Happy Halloween everybody!

I’ve spent the last little bit getting in the Halloween mood with the help of the Simpsons and YouTube. If you have a few minutes to kill, enjoy these halloween vignettes…

In honor of Halloween, I thought I would chronicle some past Halloweens and share them with you folks.


I’ve always been a big fan of Halloween. This started very early, back when your costume was the store bought plastic smock and cheap mask. You remember those… the mask with the single rubber band holding it on your head while you proceed so sweat through your face? Lots of fun. I had those for three years that I remember. Casper the friendly ghost… C-3PO… and the Devil. I remember the devil mask scared the hell out of the dogs, so that was always fun.

Then, I graduated into the homemade variety. I hit all the usuals including dracula, the punk rocker, the hobo, etc. In fact, one Halloween, 4th grade I believe, I was sick, but there was no way I was going to miss school on the greatest day of the year. Dressed as dracula, I toughed it out. I was ok until the costume parade, where each class parades around through all the other classes to see the costumes. We were just coming out of the first grade class when the combination of the illness and the cheap ass plastic dracula fangs in my mouth caused me to… uh… hurl. I vividly remember the act, but don’t remember what happened next other than my running into the nearest bathroom. But, by god, I saw the costumes, got my costume seen and had the candy and fun involved with that day. That is all that mattered.

One year, I tried my most ambitious costume to date. The mummy. We had some old curtains in the garage that I could use to cut into strips. I spent hours cutting this stuff. Then, on Halloween, mom spent hours (bless her heart) with me wrapping and safety pinning all of these strips to my sweatsuit. I was pretty stoked as we headed out for the candy. Unfortunately, I was not aware that mummies probably stay wrapped so well because they are DEAD and don’t ever move. I didn’t get 4 houses in before I started unraveling. Much to my friends enjoyment, their favorite game that night became “step-on-the-dangling-strips”. It didn’t take long before I was pretty much a just kid in a grey sweatsuit with grey makeup around my eyes. I was frankly embarrassed to be trick-or-treating in such a pathetic costume that I had to tell people that I WAS a mummy, but it all fell off. Obviously, I was not embarrassed enough to stop getting candy, however.

Later in life, I had other costumes. Including a Jamaican (with a mop dyed black on my head), a soldier, a pig (pink bodysuit with baby bottle nipples sewn on the front). I also did the rental costumes including one of my all time favorites William Wallace from Braveheart. You know, the kilt, the wig, the sword. Good times. Also, read about my adventures as ‘windblown man’ here.

Most recently I’ve been a hockey player (complete with whole uniform), a convict (striped jumpsuit) and the most elaborate as the devil. That was wearing the tux, black shirt, red tie, then painting the face red and black and sticking horns on my head.

I will say, there is nothing worse than going all out on your costume, but not having an event worthy of such a costume. The ultimate “All dressed up with nowhere to go” sort of situation.

Trick or Treating

Obviously, one of my, and every kid’s, favorite parts of Halloween was always the trick-or-treating. I would look forward to that for weeks. The neighbor Scott Bell and I would plan our trick-or-treating route, riding around on our bikes, so long and hard, you would think we were invading Poland. We would plan it every year, but somehow it always remained the same route. Around the block, up the condos across the street, then into the further neighborhoods.

I remember one evening we were out so long that the streets were becoming empty. As we were working back down our street to our houses we thought it must have been like 11:00 or something. Nobody still out except us. I had resorted to carrying my bag in my arms since there was so much candy in it the handles had long since been ripped out. We always had those old school plastic trick or treat bags you used to get at the grocery store… square bags, usually with a haunted house scene on the front, with oval handles cut out of the top. (now you see the same type at trade shows for giveaways) I had so much candy in this bag it was overflowing. Yet, we were still trick-or-treating. I couldn’t even ring the doorbells since I’d lose my grip on the bag. It was so bad, that when the people would put their candy on top of the pile, 3 or 4 other pieces would slide off. I didn’t care! “Thank you!” I’d chime in merrily and be on my way to the next house. When we finally did get home, we were amazed that it was only like 9:15. We thought we were pushing midnight. One of the best nights of my life!

Another time, Kim you might remember this, we were trick-or-treating on the back side of our block. Just getting started when an elderly lady dropped what appeared to be a large saltine cracker (like the size of 8 regular crackers all attached to each other) in the bag. I’ve since learned that it might have been matzo. Either way, to this day I still don’t understand what she might have been thinking. Needless to say, that thing was pounded into crumbs in the bottom of the bag LONG before the night was over. Mom was very pleased when we got home and dumped out the bags on the carpet that evening.

In later elementary school, my friends and I perfected our technique to maximize our efficiency. See, we had a group of 7 or 8 people in our merry band. Each of us in a rubber mask of some sort. With all of you on the porch, it would obviously take time for the people to give out the candy to everyone. So, after the first people got theirs, they duck around the edge out of sight, take the mask off (or just pull it up on top of the head) and go back for a second hit. Then, the later kids swap their masks when the first kids were getting seconds, so on and so forth. Everyone has those times handing out candy when kids keep coming to the door in a stream, so no one was ever the wiser. We essentially hit every house twice, thus doubling our candy intake without doubling our walking! Pure genius!


The byproduct of a successful Halloween. It was almost as fun dumping out your booty for admiration afterwards as it was to procure it all in the first place. Every kid went about categorizing the candy… or maybe it was just me. The top dog candies… mini candy bars or anything with chocolate came first. The rule in our house was that mom and dad automatically got all of the mounds and almond joys. Worked for me because I didn’t particularly care for those anyway. Second were the step down candies, still good but not chocolate, your life savers, suckers, sweet tarts, pixie sticks, etc. Then, of course, you have the candy you don’t really love, but still eat it simply because it’s candy. Smarties, taffy, candy corn and all those other no-name cheap ass candy that you always got. Then, the final candy that was ALWAYS left in the bottom of the bag were those horrible, peanut butter taffy kisses in the orange or black wrappers. Those things are the WORST and were never eaten. Just terrible.

I was the kid who could ration the Halloween spoils and make it last for months. To my way of thinking, it is the one time of year when you get this whole bag of candy that you were in charge of. You got to decide when to eat it. No one else had control. Back then, you had to ask for everything you wanted. That was life. But Halloween candy was all yours. If you want a piece first thing in the morning? Go for it. Want a piece directly before dinner? You the man. No other time does a kid have that much control, and I loved it. I liked having that option available, and kept it going as long as possible. I could easily push Halloween candy through February. And I’m talking there would be mini snickers and milky way’s left in the bag then… it was such a prized commodity that it had to be hidden in the closet to avoid marauding sisters or fathers…

All in all, Halloween is one of the absolute apexes of the childhood year. October was always so much fun planning and preparing. For me, Halloween kicked off the best part of the year. Next came Thanksgiving (with the extended school break) as well as my birthday (PRESENTS!). From there leads to Christmas (Presents AND extended time off school!). In the two months from Halloween to Christmas, I received 90% of the loot I would get for the whole year! The rest of the year paled in comparison.

So, happy Halloween everybody. I’m on a high until January 2nd…

3 Replies to “And the silken sad uncertain rustling…”

  1. great stories jas. I always wondered where you kept your stash. I’d forgotten about the mounds and almond joys. Too true. It is a beautiful thing, Halloween.

    Thanks for the cups of cake. 🙂

  2. Ah, Jas, times aren’t what they used to be in our neighborhood. We only had 18 kids show up last night–guess they all car-pooled to the north end, or else, as you pointed out last year–we’re an old growth area, and there just aren’t that many children left. I miss them. Your stories brought back a bunch of great memories!

Comments are closed.