I have gotten some weird candy in my days and a lot of homemade treats, but the most unusual treat I received was given to me on a cool dry Halloween Night in the early 1980s. I remember the house and everything surrounding the moment very vividly. It was nearing the hour of no return, when it was too dark and would be considered rude to knock on people’s doors for treats, because of this we were hurrying to get as many houses in as possible.
Most of the time we were moving between houses as a full run. We called that time, cleanups, because people were either out of candy and didn’t answer or if they had candy they were willing to dump fistfuls of it into your bag to get rid of it. You could really “clean up” at that time of day.
I loved clean up time!
If was a few minutes before 9 pm, right at the cusp of rudeness, when we hit this brown ranch-style house that was around the corner and down the block from where I lived. I think we had gone there at the start of the day, but during these daring last-minute Halloween moments, all decorum is thrown out the window and all houses are open for double or even triple dipping.
As usual, the person answering the door didn’t recognize us from earlier. She commented about how great our costumes were (she was a kind lady, because I know my costume was pretty horrible — its the worst kind of pity) and she even made her husband pull himself off the couch to come over and look at us. I often wonder how many times he had to get up that day to look at goofy looking kids in vinyl store-bought costumes. He nodded and said “ooh scary” or something like that and then disappeared from the doorway.
We got our bags open as she cracked her screen door, but something was wrong. The lady paused for a minute and then she said, “I am all out of candy, but I had these old comics laying around.”
She reaches over to the table near the door and lifted a hefty stack of what I can only assume were her son’s comic book collection.
She paused a moment. Was she contemplating how many more kids would be at the house tonight or was she feeling some strange pang of guilt for giving away her son’s stuff?
I have no idea, but what I do know is that she took half the stack and stuck it into each of our bags. We were both big comic readers and were both nearly speechless.
So we said a quick thank-you and with our bags straining with sugar, chocolate and now comic books we decided to call it a night and both ran home. When I get in, I ducked passed my sisters who liked to exact a candy toll from my bag and ran to my room where my other two bags of treats were stowed.
Dumping the sack out on my bed to take an inventory, I was very happy to find that I had received almost 20 comic books from the early 1970s. Almost all were Marvel and all of them were “Avengers” titles.
I felt bad that I was getting these comic books from another kid’s forgotten collection, but that quickly faded under the weight of candy bloat and sugar nightmares.
That Halloween I fell asleep reading the early adventures of Iron Man and Captain America while eating Bit of Honey and Peanut Chews. It was a memorable end to what had become a routine Halloween and it was probably the most unusual Halloween treat I would ever receive.