In 1957 I was in second grade and was mildly kidnapped on Halloween. Just before dusk kids from up and down Mary Street yelled out,”The dogs are out!” which meant, four footed sweet hearts were “let out for the night”. We all knew and patted the doggies in our neighborhood during the day when they were walked on their leashes. But at night the doggies were let out their front doors and became a pack of snapping hounds running through non-fenced front yards and massively pooping everywhere.
About the same time we were all attempting to be let back into our homes, needing to eat fast and to change back into the costumes we’d worn to school that day. We needed to get and get going.
The year before I’d found myself looking like a fool because I’d carried the cute Halloween bag I’d decorated in my school class. The year I was seven I’d tossed the silly bag, and quickly scribbled a pumpkin in orange crayon across the largest paper bag I could find and worried this might not be even big enough.
In my family candy was only allowed twice a year, as told in my book If Mrs Greeby Asks. Halloween was a sure thing, Christmas was ify so I was ready to meet my best friend from across the street as early as I could and come home as late as possible. But parents always established a time limit because the later we were out the more cars filled the road. The cars swerved around dog packs and they sometimes hit witches and kids dressed as bats..
Large and small groups of kids swarmed Mary Street. We worked our way, back and forth, as fast as we could, shifting around dog packs and trying look somewhat polite to our generous neighbors. Then we candy collected our way into the kid napping scheme.
The porch light was on, we entered the enclosed porch, and waited behind a bunch of kids, as they rang the door bell again. Was this a waste of our time? Possibly, yet the adult inside might finally understand and give each of us an entire mixed bag of candy. “Anything is possible!” we told ourselves.
As we were weighing our options the door opened and an old man and his wife TOLD us to come in.
We all stared at each other. This wasn’t right! We didn’t GO IN. For one thing it was a waist of time! But these old people knew what they were doing. The woman held the front door open and the old guy worked his way through us, and by this time more kids had come up behind us on the porch, and he LOCKED the porch door!
So we when in the house. “Sit down!” we were commanded. My friend and I shifted between others on the couch and waited for the room to fill. The two old people watched at the window. If an adult accompanied a group of children candy was taken out to the porch full of kids. If not the old people waited until it filled then herded another group of kids in their house.
Mean time we in the room were completely still; no sound, we were stunned. No sound except the ticking clock and Keith’s whimpering. And there no movement. I faced the clock and It was ten minutes before all standing room was filled. Then the two old people stood in front of us and lectured us on being a good neighbors.
We were never to step on their grass, even the strips between the side walk and street. ( I knew my rights, They didn’t own that lawn.) We were never to allow dogs to step on, dig at, or soil their grass. I lost track of all else they said. I was trying to remember if having walked my friend’s dog, only twice that whole year, we’d been responsible for LEAVING something! But then I remembered the dog packs; I shouldn’t be responsible for THAT!
Finally, after close to fifteen minutes, the old guy unlocked both the front and the porch doors, not even offering candy. We ran. There was one more things to fear on Halloween nights than spooks, cars, dogs. Old guys behind enclosed porches and a WAIST OF CANDY COLLECTING TIME. nancymauerman.com