It was 1968. Orville had recently returned from his second tour in Vietnam and purchased a small house in Copperas Cove, Texas. A few local families were the backbone of the community. The rest of us were military families attached to Fort Hood.
To give you a little background, Orville grew up in rural West Virginia where costumes were whatever Mom could scrape together out of old clothes. Because they lived in the country, the kids only went trick-or-treating at two or three houses.
I grew up in an Ohio town that was large enough to have three elementary schools. Towns were safer then, so we went in groups carrying shopping bags or pillow cases and had the run of neighborhoods that were within walking distance.
About a week before Halloween Orville and I went commissary-shopping. I began piling bags of candy into the cart. He returned most of the candy to the shelves. I put it back in the cart. He asked, “Why are you buying so much candy?”
“You’re buying too much.”
“No, I’m not. We need much more than this.”
“How much candy do you plan to give each child?”
“Then one bag should be enough.”
“No it won’t. The Smith’s have four children. The Jones’ have five. We have three. The rest of the families on our street have approximately the same number and kids will be coming from other neighborhoods.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I am. We need at least 12 bags of candy, 20 would be better.”
“I don’t believe you, but I’ll agree to 10 bags.”
“That won’t be enough.”
“That’s all I’m buying.”
On Halloween I put the candy in a soup kettle and asked Orville to watch for Trick-or-Treaters while I dressed our three little ones in their homemade costumes. I reminded him not to give anyone more than two pieces.
“We’ll have candy left for Easter,” he complained.
“No we won’t. Remember I grew up in a town and know what kind of crowd to expect.”
Soon, the door bell rang and there stood four little beggars. Three more arrived just as he was handing candy to the first group. Then there were another five. There was a Superman, a cowboy, a doctor, a princess and more. Orville ran to grab his movie camera and said, “You pass out the candy. I’m filming this.”
“We agreed that I’d take the kids out and you’d pass out the candy,” I said.
“We’ll pay the neighbor girl a dollar to take the kids out. I have to get this on camera.”
And so the evening went, until we were down to two bags of candy. I told Orville that I needed to make more treats and headed for the kitchen. I had baked cookies that day – just in case. Two cookies went into each sandwich bag. Soon all our apples, oranges and bananas flew into outstretched treat bags. Then I began popping and bagging popcorn.
That was nearly gone when, finally, curfew hit and we were able to take a few deep breaths. Orville said, “I can hardly believe what I just saw. Next year we’ll be better prepared.” I couldn’t resist tossing a “told you so” his direction.
The following year not only did we buy more candy, but Orville also invited another couple to bring their candy to our house. The men passed out the candy and filmed the Trick or Treaters while we moms took our pre-schoolers house-to-house, then returned to make sure the snacks kept coming.
copyright by Sharon D. Dillon, October 27, 2016