By Amy McCollom
Is there really truth to the phrase, “too much of a good thing?” Well, not when it comes to fun-size Snickers candy bars, in my opinion. Or Reese’s peanut butter cups. Or Tootsie Rolls. Or Hershey chocolate bars of any size. Butterfinger candy bars, Payday bars, Kit Kat bars. I would find it difficult to pick a favorite candy bar; I love almost all candy bars. Well, maybe a Hershey milk chocolate bar. It’s a classic favorite.
As a kid, a candy bar was a big treat. Even though I remember a Hershey chocolate bar costing only ten cents, then raising to 15 cents, that was still a chunk of change in the early 1970’s especially when there were three kids in the family that all wanted a candy bar. Halloween and trick-or-treating for candy was something I looked forward to all year. I couldn’t wait to indulge in a night of candy savorying and sampling. I could finally satisfy my sweet tooth without begging my parents for candy; I just had to beg all the neighborhood parents instead!
Back then, trick-or-treating was a two-night ordeal. You could dress up and go out knocking for candy on the 30th and 31st of October, and the hours were a lot longer. I remember starting our candy hunt right after suppertime, (around 6 p.m.) and getting home after 9 p.m. I think the set hours were 7 to 9, but it never hurt to get a head start or squeeze in a few more houses before heading home.
I remember one Halloween when I was little, my mom walked with us, pulling our red radio flyer wagon behind her. I thought it was in case my little brother got tired of walking and wanted to ride, but it was for something else. She also brought several paper IGA bags, which she kept folded in the bottom of the wagon.
My dad was working his night job as a meat cutter at Bruce’s store, way down on south Main St., and we were going to walk to the store to meet him, and trick-or-treat all the way there. My mom didn’t drive, and we only had one car, so we were used to walking, but still, there were a lot of steps for little legs to walk that night. After about the third block, my pumpkin head bucket was full, and my feet hurt. But I liked candy and I knew we weren’t turning back, so complaining wasn’t going to help.
My mom took one of the IGA paper sacks and dumped our pumpkin heads out in it, and told us, “There, now people will think you are just starting out and might give you more to help you catch up.” And she was right. Clever, girl.
Up and down the streets, to every lit-up porch we went until I didn’t think my legs could carry me another step. I was so tired of uttering those words, “ trick or treat” that I just let my sister say it and I mumbled to make a noise like I was talking. We didn’t just go down the main roads; my mom had us weave down the side streets as well, I suppose to use up time until my dad got off work and also to collect more candy. Mom kept driving us on, more houses, more houses! More candy, more candy! (I swear I heard an evil laugh come deep from her throat.)
From our house on Timmons Drive to Bruce’s Store on south Main was probably a half of a mile. But figuring in all of the side roads, and up and down the sidewalks to the houses, and the stairs and porches, I figure we probably walked 432 miles that night. It felt like it anyways. My legs were like wobbly limp noodles by the time we got to Bruce’s Store, and I was never so happy to see those lights of that store in my life. Mr. Bruce even gave each of us a full size candy bar! But mainly I just wanted to sit down.
When all was said and done, we had collected five IGA sacks full to the brim with candy. I remember mom and dad put out two big mixing bowls full of candy on the breakfast bar for all of us to pick through, and they put the rest in the freezer. We had candy in the house for quite some time; way past Christmas. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off. That was a great lesson to learn. Work hard, even past being tired, and reap a great reward.
When my son Rudy was younger, he was a lot like me about trick-or treating. He took it very seriously. He worked hard on his costume, and worked even harder at researching where the best candy neighborhoods were going to be. One particular year, I drove the kids to the golf course subdivision in Tuscola, as the sidewalks are nice and wide and it’s fairly safe and easy to navigate for trick-or-treating. Plus according to Rudy’s research, they gave out the best candy there.
I walked with the kids, but Rudy kept wanting to run back to the van several times. I let him do it twice, but then the third time I figured he was up to something.
“Rudy! Why do you keep going back to the van?! What are you doing in there?!”
“I’m changing my costume! I brought extra masks because the house on the corner is giving out full size candy bars, and if I wear a different mask and change my voice, they think I’m a different kid and give me another one! Come on, Mom, I have two more masks to try!”
Clever boy. And yes, it worked. Yes, I allowed it. Yes, he gave me a full size Hershey chocolate bar for letting him. Yes, I can be bought off with milk chocolate by a seven-year old boy on Halloween night. Shameful, I know. I’ll have to work on that personality flaw. I’ll add that to my list. And now you know my secret.
Working hard still pays off. Being clever does too, sometimes; As long as you know who to pay off if you get caught.