Halloween was best time as kid

I remember vividly circling Maudedith Lane on Halloween night wearing with incredible pride my stunning Spiderman costume. Despite the cool temperatures, I was sweating profusely under the plastic mask that I was convinced fooled everybody, despite the thin rubber band my mom had re-stapled numerous times, struggling to hold it to my head.
My friends and I walked up to a well known old maid’s house in the neighborhood, admired her hand carved jack-o-lantern and knocked on the door eager to see what kind of treats she would hand out.
You can imagine the looks on our distraught faces when she reached out the door and plopped a big old apple in the bottom of our paper bags.
Fortunately, that was the rarity of my youth. I always made it home with bags full of candy – Snickers, M&Ms, Reese’s, Butterfingers, Blow Pops, an assortment of Hershey’s miniatures, Sweet Tarts, Jawbreakers, Jolly Ranchers, and more.

Joel McNeece

Joel McNeece

Halloween was always a favorite time when I was a little kid. It’s one of the few times you’re allowed to beg for candy and eat all you can get your hands on, no questions asked. There were always a few of those “old maid” apples, oranges or home made goods mixed in with the preferred sweets, but they were easy enough to discard, admittedly sometimes in the mailbox of the person who gave it to you. Of course that was 40 years ago, today’s trick-or-treaters don’t get the same experience I did.
Today’s costumes are so elaborate, so realistic, so comfortable. My costumes were never any of those.

I was obsessed with Spiderman as a small child from the first time I saw him on The Electric Company on PBS. My dad even took me to the local Howard’s (the Fred’s Dollar Store of its day) in Clinton where on one special day you could meet the “real” Spiderman. The long line of kids weaved through the store’s warehouse until you turned a corner and there he was, just like he looked on “The Electric Company” on TV. At least that’s how I remember it. I’m sure it was just a tall, skinny stock boy in tights, but I got a picture made with him and treasured that grainy Polaroid for years. I even took it to school to show all my friends.

When Halloween rolled around I got my wish and my mother bought me a Spiderman costume. It didn’t look exactly like the real Spiderman. The red and blue Hefty-bag like jumpsuit was hardly skin tight like “Spidey’s.” It was extremely hot, too. Outside temperature didn’t matter, in those suits you were going to sweat like a turkey on Thanksgiving.
Even worse than the suit was that plastic mask. I would have to keep cutting the eye slots bigger and bigger, because it was impossible to keep it from slicing your eyelids with every blink. And that troublesome rubber band holding it on pulled your hair constantly.

Invariably, it would break every three or four houses, and I would have to go get mom to re-staple, each time making it even tighter and tighter, until eventually the pursuit of candy outweighed the desire for everyone to believe I was actually Spiderman.

People had true sympathy for you in those costumes, or else they were overflowing with Halloween spirit. Every house in my neighborhood dished out candy by the handfuls. Even the frustration of the fruit or disgusting candy corn didn’t last long. You appreciated that you were getting something.
I always helped my mom carve our own Jack-o-lantern for Halloween. We set an old chair in the front yard, threw a white sheet over it and set the carved pumpkin on it with a lighted candle inside. Every house had a smiling jack-o-lantern greeting the trick-or-treaters.

Some of the houses had more than that. We had one house in the neighborhood, the Peveys, where the older kids that lived there would run a fishing line from the roof to a tree in the front yard. They cut up white sheets, put them over something round like a  soccer ball, painted menacing faces on them, and hooked them to the line. They would wait on the roof for some trick-or-treaters to approach the front door and then release the ghosts that would come flying down at you with them screaming from the rooftop.
As a 6-year-old, the first time you saw it you nearly jumped out of your plastic suit. From then on it became cool and you kept going back to see it again and again.
I would end up filling a big brown grocery bag, often with my own Halloween art on the front, full of candy. We would make multiple trips around my neighborhood and we never heard, “you’ve already been here.” We were just handed more candy.

We knew 90% of the people whose doors we knocked on, but even the ones who were total strangers, it didn’t matter. They greeted us with smiles, bunches of candy and life was grand.
I hate kids today don’t get those kinds of experiences to treasure. That bag full of candy would last me two or three days. The memories I still carry today.