Trick or Treat!

Halloween PumpkinAfter supper, from the safety of our large front porch, I watched candlelight flicker from grinning Jack O’Lanterns across the street. Paper skeletons dangled from the neighbor’s porch and kicked the artificial spider web stretched across the corners in occasional gusts of wind.

“Harrumph,” my father said when I asked for a pumpkin for our porch. “Wasting food that could make a good pie. Besides, we’ll need our candles the next time the power goes off.”

On Halloween, my sister-in-law, Genevee, showed up at dusk. I overheard Mama trying to convince Papa that my twin and I, both first graders, would be safe walking the neighborhood with Genevee and our teen sister Nadine.


Trick or Treat


Papa declared that Trick or Treating was begging. “If the girls don’t get a treat after they beg, then they lied because they know better than to play a bad trick on our neighbors.” With three women against him and our deep brown eyes pleading to go, he relented. With our chaperones, we trekked up the street in our regular clothes, no costumes, not even an eye mask for an attempt at a disguise.

“Two blocks was as far as we said we would go. We’d better go back after this house,” Nadine said. The porch light was on, the signal that Trick or Treaters were welcome, but the house was eerie in the pale light. I shivered and glanced back to be sure our guardians waited in the shadows.

Spooky door“Trick or Treat!” my twin and I yelled in unison when the door opened. A stooped woman glared down at me, her gray hair in disarray above a worn sweater half buttoned, her wrinkled apron over a faded housedress above bare legs like nothing I’d ever seen.

“There’s been one bunch here already this evening,” she said. “This revolting begging has got to stop.”  She reached behind her, shook something that sounded like paper, and offered four small squares of unwrapped saltine crackers.


I turned and ran down the porch steps, quite sure that I had escaped from the wicked witch who held Hansel and Gretel captive.




Filed under Events, Holidays, Memoir, Writing

10 responses to “Trick or Treat!

  1. Did you get treats from the other houses/people? I know there are lots of mixed opinions on Halloween, but it was my daughter’s favorite holiday and is also the favorite of my grandsons. There is nothing sinister in the way they see it. I think they like a holiday where they get to have some control. Christmas is great but it’s pretty much all done for them. Halloween? They get to choose costumes, decides witch (intended) houses they’ll go to, and collect their own treats. So, tonight I will be Professor McGonagall and we’ll all celebrate their favorite holiday. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for asking, Professor McGonagall. Meeting the witcherased much of the pleasant memories from my first Trick or Treat. I do remember homemade cookies and popcorn balls from neighbors on our block.

  2. You’re a great writer, Sis. Moore.

  3. Debra Lindley Ruyle

    I look so forward to your posts – your niece Debra

  4. The tradition of small children mooching treats hasn’t changed, but the feeling that this is a revolting practice certainly has. How much of that is due to the country forgetting about bands of hobos roaming the countryside, knocking on back doors for food and odd jobs?

    • Lani, your post is right on target. My fictionalized short story, “Angels Unaware” published in Kaleidoscope, the 2010 Las Positas College Anthology is about the constant string of hobos my mother fed on our front porch. Alas, but none of them wore cute costumes.

  5. At first I thought the old woman you described was in costume, but she was serious. How scary that must have been. I look at the children’s buckets loaded to the top with so much wrapped sugar and I don’t agree with the overabundance of food that’s not good for their growing bodies and teeth. But the children are very cute and I too, bought two large, very large bags that disappeared in an hour. Every one of costumed children from the tiny to the teen thanked me, wished me a Happy Halloween and made me remember the excitement of that holiday. One girl about ten years old with a shy voice thanked me for her treat, held up a UNICEF box, and asked if I would like to donate. Of course I said yes and thanked her for taking time to help others. This was the best year yet. I have faith in the new generation.

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