It was the day after Halloween. 6th Grade. A guy in my class named Johnny showed up with a grocery-sized paper bag containing more candy than should be legal. He had already eaten to his heart's content, but probably brought this to school so he would have something to do during recess. The night before, Johnny and a friend hit the streets of our town. Block by block and house by house, they kept adding to their treasure. They took their bounty home and ate candy for days.
That was almost a half century ago and I still remember it. Why? We didn't live in town. The rural area where I grew up contained neighbors spaced well apart. Even if we had lived in town, my parents wouldn't have turned me loose on a Halloween treasure hunt -- not at that age. For us, though, Halloween was putting on our selected costume, "ruining it" by bundling into coats and climbing into the family car. Then my mom would take us around to a few houses in the area, where we would "Trick or Treat" and add our treats to brown, paper lunch bags. If we did well, our candy might make it through the next day. Bummer! Life just wasn't fair.
I pause to remember on this October 31st. I can't recall all the homes we visited on Halloween, but here are some I do remember. Mrs. Sage was a lady down the road who lived in a tiny, run-down house. She was also my first piano teacher. I had forgotten until now that she is the person who taught me "Middle C" and opened a new world of beautiful music to me.
Mrs. Dean seemed old back then. She was. The last time I visited her, I had long been an adult and she was still spry and sharp. She lived on past her 100th birthday. When I think of her, I realize that I never knew her that well, but every time we were around her, I could feel her love for us.
Grandpa and Grandma Norris had moved down from their homestead in the mountains and got a place about a half mile away. Trick or Treating at their house is what I remember best. It's not because of the goodies they had for us. Instead, I can still remember them greeting us and welcoming us into their house. I can hear Grandma's voice and see Grandpa at his old chair in their tiny living room. I can feel the bond of what it means to be family. I now know the happiness they felt when their grandkids arrived.
Johnny's Halloween treasure is long gone. I'm still enjoying mine.