The worst Halloween ever (or, the night a girl and her mom stole my candy)

When I was 5, my parents took me trick-or-treating. It was drizzling, and I had a nasty cold, but I didn’t want to miss Halloween.

Florida Memory/public domain

I don’t remember my costume, but I remember my bag. It was a paper, with paper-cord handles. This is important. It was a paper bag.

I got a lot of candy, but there were a few duds. One woman was giving out pieces of popcorn — loose, not bagged, just reaching in a bowl and dropping a few into the paper bag — and there was a doctor up the street who gave out pennies.

So, there I am, sick, sniffling, coughing, with a slight fever, walking down the street in a drizzling rain, and I say, “Mom, my bag feels lighter.”

She says, “Oh, you’re just getting used to the weight.”

I stop and look at my bag and say, “No, it broke!”

The bottom had dropped out of my damp paper sack, and all my candy had fallen out.

We looked up the sidewalk and there, maybe 20 feet behind us, a girl and her mother were scooping up my candy and putting it in the girl’s bag.

I looked at Mom. She looked at the girl and mother stealing my candy and sighed. “OK,” she said. “Let’s go to a few more houses, then.”

We did, but we’d already hit most of the houses on the street, and I didn’t get enough candy to make up for the candy the girl and her mother stole.

A few years ago, my parents and I were talking about the kids’ costumes and about Halloween when I was a kid — like the time our neighbor’s big black dog chased me down the street, or the many times teenagers blew up our pumpkins with M-80s — and I asked Mom why she hadn’t tried to stop the woman from taking the candy.

Mom said she knew the woman, or knew of her. I’m from a really small town in eastern Kentucky where everybody knows everybody else, including their family histories and their family’s criminal history. “That woman was mean,” my mom said.

I understood. It would be a waste of time to get into an argument with an idiot over a couple bucks worth of chocolate. I imagine she would have claimed it was hers under the widely held legal principle of “finders keepers.”

So, this Halloween I’ll carve a pumpkin (yuck) and take the kids out trick-or-treating and, because they asked, I’ll wear a costume — Indiana Jones, because I have a jacket and a hat that would work — and if I see a kid spill some candy on the sidewalk, you can bet Things 1 and 2 and I will help him pick it up.

21 thoughts on “The worst Halloween ever (or, the night a girl and her mom stole my candy)

    1. Well, I did grow up to become a candy mogul and return to my hometown every Halloween and give 5 pounds of candy to every man, woman and child except that kid and her mom, but vengence wears you down after a while, so now I’m mostly just nice to people.

  1. Aw, such a sad story on so many levels — sad for you, who missed out on all the good candy (assuming it was heavier than the popcorn!), sad for the ‘mean’ woman who had to resort to thievery, sad for her child who got (probably) another lesson in mistreating other folks. Lucky for Thing 1 and 2 they’ve got a wise dad!

  2. How sad, Todd. For your five year old self, and for the women who was so low that she would scoop someone else’s candy up off the sidewalk. I wonder what her child grew up to be like?

  3. You’re a good man, Todd. My heart sank when I read about the meanies scooping up your candy.

    Well, for a positive spin… there may have been eight other kids in their household and they only had enough for one Halloween costume.

    I don’t get why people are jerks. I am sure you learned a lot that day whether you realized it or not at the time.

    Here’s to an abundance of chocolate for you this Halloween.


    1. Thanks, Darlene. Don’t forget I was sick and it was raining. Sick, raining and watching a mom steal my candy. You put that in a novel or a sitcom, no one would believe it.

  4. I am sorry you had such horrible Halloween memories. No wonder you aren’t to keen on the holiday. I came home from trick or treating one year and found out my kitten, Flash, had gotten run over by a car. He obviously didn’t live up to his name. I still love Halloween, though.
    Your mom was right not to confront the lady and her daughter. That probably wouldn’t have ended very well for anyone.

    1. Thanks, Amy. Given that I had my candy stolen, was chased by our neighbor’s big, mean dog and had my pumpkins blown up, I think it’s easy to understand why Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday!

  5. Is that parenthetical editorial vis a vis pumpkin new? I’ve never been passionately pro-pumpkin, but I’m starting to feel sorry for it and maybe a little worried about becoming pro-pumpkin just because I always cheer for the underdog.

    Happy Halloween, Indiana.

  6. Oh man. You poor kid. I’d give you some of my candy if you lived close. And what a horrible lesson to teach that kid. Bad mommy!!

    My hubs doesn’t like the holiday either, but I don’t think he’s ever had anywhere near the horrible experiences you had, so he really has no excuse. I don’t blame you at all though, but I do agree that vengence gets tiring after a while. Good for you for letting it go.

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