Every fall when leaves turn orange and pumpkins decorate yards, a think of Halloweens past. When I was a child, my mother usually created a costume for me from discarded clothing, scraps of material, face paint, and imagination.
My best friend Marilyn and I liked to dress in the same theme. One year, she dressed as George Washington and I dressed as Martha. In those days, it was still safe to trick-or-treat from house to house, whether or not we knew the homeowners. Some residents handed out gooey popcorn balls or homemade chocolate chip cookies. If they gave us apples, we didn’t have to check for sharp objects.
As soon as it was dusk, we would start ringing doorbells. Some boys, intent on collecting as much candy as possible, would race from door to door with pillowcases, trick-or-treating from before dusk until past the bewitching hour of 9:00. Marilyn and I trick-or-treated until about 7:00, when we went to a party at our school.
When my children were young, they begged to go to a haunted house. I gave in one year and promised them a trip to the Haunted Mansion in Longview. My daughter was sick a few days before the event, and she was so looking forward to going that when her fever subsided, I gave in. Part way through, she became so frightened that the ghosts and goblins had to let her out the side exit, and her fever returned.
Both of my kids enjoyed entering pumpkin-decorating contests, and both usually won prizes. One year at school, my daughter entered a particularly charming pumpkin. A medium-sized pumpkin, the head, perched on a plump pumpkin body. Whimsical gourds became eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms and legs. Alas, her pumpkin was disqualified because it was decorated, not carved. However, a carved watermelon took the prize. For her, it was a lesson in “life’s not fair.”
Each Halloween, I think of Maggie McQuarrie, a 70-something Woodland Library supporter who passed away a few years ago. The tiny woman loved to dress up in costume, and one year borrowed a green, feather-decorated sweatshirt from my grandson, along with a bird headdress, just to surprise her “morning coffee” friends at McDonalds. On Halloween, she dressed up and knocked on our door. We felt kind of sorry for the kid who had to go out trick-or-treating alone until we caught the scent of her cigarettes and heard her raspy voice say, “Trick-or-Treat.”
From the time my grandchildren were small, they dressed up and joined 1000 other costumed kids in marching past the businesses on Woodland’s Goerig Street and Davidson Avenue, down one side and back the other, stopping at each business to trick-or-treat. Woodland continues this tradition each year, blocking streets to provide safety. Many businesses that would like to participate, but that are not located in the designated trick-or-treat area, set up booths along the route in the Grange Hall at 404 Davidson Avenue.
Area kids will form their own Halloween memories this October 31 when they trick-or-treat downtown Woodland between 3:00 and 5:00 P.M.