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When Halloween Was Simple


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I remember Halloween fondly.  Especially as a little boy in the 1960’s.  My Dad would take me trick-or-treating in our neighborhood in Lead.  I don’t remember the costumes I wore, but I fondly remember the treats in my Halloween sack.

We would start at the houses across the street on Park Avenue and get the usual fare.  Candy bars, and maybe two or 3 pieces of hard candy or taffy.  Then we reached Grandma Stevens’ door step we got caramel apples!  She made the caramel herself.  She was a tremendous cook.  She was widowed and lived by herself for many years and even insisted on shoveling her own snow!  She lived to be 101.  She knew my grandparents who passed away before I was born. She told me stories about them and over the years, I felt like I had come to know them.

Dad and I worked our way up the street to the Roeseler’s home where they passed out popcorn balls.  These were so good! To this day,  I’d kill to have a popcorn ball like Millie Roeseler made.  I don’t know how she made so many popcorn balls as busy as she was.  She and her husband George owned the Jack and Jill grocery store and worked long hours.

Then, across the street at Grandma Friske’s house we got a great surprise.  A small package wrapped in simple brown paper.  A new cap or a pair of mittens hand knitted by her.  They were always very warm in the winter and she loved making them for some of the little kids she knew.

A little further down the street, my Uncle Jim and Aunt Betty passed out chocolate chip cookies.  My aunt made the best cookies in the world.  What I wouldn’t give to have one of her recipes.

Before we got home, we would stop by Jack and Helen Finn’s house.  Jack was famous for throwing a heck of a scare into everyone young and old alike on Halloween.  He made sure the house was decorated like a haunted house and it was different every year.  He took such pride in it as did Helen with her popcorn balls and caramel apples.  Next to Christmas, it was Jack’s favorite day of the year.

Looking back on those early years of my life, I not only fondly remember the wonderful treats and the sights and sounds of Halloween, but I remember the people who went out of their way to make it a wonderful experience every year.  I am grateful to have lived in a time when things were simple.  Not so rushed. It was a time when you truly knew your neighbor.  I wish it were the same today.

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