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Stories from a Halloween veteran

When I was a kid, Halloween ranked right up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas as one of the major holidays of the season. Well, with Christmas, anyway. Thanksgiving was more like a grown-ups’ holiday back then. I mean, what was Thanksgiving for a 10-year-old? Get dressed up, behave, mind your manners and sit at the card table and eat with the 4- and 5-year-olds. Yeah. When does school start back?

But Halloween — oh, man! For guys, it wasn’t so much about the costumes as it was how much candy you brought in.

I mean, sure, the costumes had something to do with it, and when you were a younger kid, it was pretty neat. I can remember as a first-grader in Tuscaloosa dressing up as a tiger and going around our neighborhood with Dad.

One year, the store-bought costumes just didn’t do it for me, so we took an old sheet, cut out eyeholes, and I went as a ghost. The sheet kept rotating on me as I walked, and sometimes, it was hard to keep the eyeholes lined up with the eyes, but apparently, it was scary enough to bring home a bagful of candy.

The last year I went out was when I was in seventh grade. I was the mascot for Demopolis Junior High School, so I used that uniform, got Mom to put some whiskers on my face and reprised my role as a trick-or-treat tiger.

You may roll your eyes at a seventh-grader going out trick-or-treating, but I was just 11, so I guess that makes it a little better. The next year, I kind of thought about it, and thought I’d stay in on Halloween, kinda like graduating from the card table at Thanksgiving. It was fun helping Mom hand out candy that year while Dad went out with my younger brother and sister.

Whatever you choose to dress up as, be careful this Halloween. Watch for cars, because the drivers may not be able to see you. Let your parents check the candy before you eat it. And if you see a 5-foot-10 redhead who looks a little older than the other kids and dressed as a tiger, give him a Krackle or a Nestle Crunch, and he won’t cause you any trouble.