The Great Halloween Scam
A Boomer reader remembers
Trick or treating has changed since the 1950s. Boomer reader R.G. Begora shares Halloween memories of his youthful hunts for candy, including one particularly creative strategy.
For those who have read some of my essays, you will realize that I was a handful for my mom. From almost burning the house down (twice) to almost getting arrested by the FBI, I would be considered a rambunctious little guy. This saga continues with my memories of Halloween. In the 1950s, Halloween was a much different holiday than it is today. My memories of trick or treating are very distant now, but there are some things that are etched in my mind. I cannot remember the costumes I wore or the size of the candy bars I was able to put into my shopping bag. However, I can remember homemade taffy apples, popcorn balls, homemade cookies, fudge and hard candies. I remember being invited into the homeowner’s foyer sitting on a chair and drinking freshly brewed hot chocolate. Of course, it was a different time for us all, and surely for a young boy intent on candy handouts on a large scale those times held many fond memories.
When I was real young, I can remember my mom and aunt escorting me from house to house. I recall coming home and dumping all the candy onto my bed in order to sort through all the goodies. As I got older, my mom would let me go out by myself. Today, that would be considered child endangerment. I soon learned that stopping for some of the homemade goodies was not the best way to accumulate large amounts of sweets. It slowed me down. By the time I would stop to enjoy a quick hot chocolate, I could have hit five or six more houses. Running from house to house also increased the booty. Running passed the smaller kids with their parents was a necessity, because walking behind would slow me down even more.
When I was about 6 years old, I remember staying out later than usual one Halloween night. Actually, it was so late that some of the homeowners were complaining about knocking on doors at that time of night. I did notice that the irate homeowners had bunches of candy still left in their bowls. On my way home, I began thinking about all that leftover candy. What were they going to do with it, throw it out? I then had a great idea, or at least I thought it was a great idea. What if I went back the next day and begin trick or treating for a second time? My 6-year-old mind devised a scenario that included having to stay home to help my mom take care of my sick sister. It seemed like a logical reason for coming back the next day.
The very next afternoon, I grabbed a grocery bag (in those days the bags had handles on them) and headed out to accomplish my plan. I didn’t wear a costume because that would have looked way out of place the day after Halloween. The homeowners who answered the doors insisted they had no candy left over. Maybe they didn’t believe my story of the sick sister. Maybe they wanted to keep the candy to eat themselves. My master plan turned out to be a total bust. Well, not totally, because I did get some candy. I dragged myself home in utter defeat, all the while trying to figure out why my devious deception did not work.
When I got home, my mom asked where I had been. Since I was standing by the kitchen holding a shopping bag with a small amount of candy inside, I had to fess up to what I had done. Thinking back, I can’t remember the punishment I received but I remember my mom becoming real annoyed when I told her the story about the sick sister. Maybe because of the fact that I didn’t have a sister could have set her off. I do remember that I never saw the little amount of candy I had in the bag again. I always thought my mom probably ate it when I wasn’t around. Ah, those Halloween memories.
R. G. Begora is retired. In 2006, he published a novel entitled “Smoke,” a firefighting story. He has written other remembrances to share with Boomer readers, including “A Trip to the Penny Candy Store” and “The Good Humor Truck.”
Read more childhood nostalgia and other contributions from Boomer readers in our From the Reader department.
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