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.

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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.

The absolutely true story of the ‘ghost’ that rolled my toy across the room

Let me start by saying that I don’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural, but when I was 4 or 5, my mother and I saw part of a toy rocket flip onto its side and roll across the living room floor by itself.

It was an Apollo Moon Rocket. It was probably 12 inches tall and maybe 2 inches across. It had 5 stages: the capsule, the thing the capsule sat on, 2 tubes that formed the body and a round base with 5 nozzles on the bottom but no moving parts, no springs or anything that would make it move by itself.

One afternoon, the parts of the rocket were scattered across the floor, and the base was lying flat, nozzles down. I was sitting on Mom’s lap on the couch watching TV when the base stood on edge, rolled 4 or 5 feet across the floor and fell over onto the nozzles.

It scared the crap out of me.

Mom tried to calm me down. I remember her telling me that it wasn’t a ghost, although she couldn’t explain why it stood on its side and rolled across the room.

When Dad came home from work, I remember running over to tell him what happened, and even though I had a witness, I don’t think he entirely believed me, and, frankly, I don’t blame him.

I doubted the story myself until I asked Mom about it a few years ago. She said it happened, that it wasn’t a trick, that no one touched it, no one was near it, that nothing else in the house moved, just the rocket part.

Like I said, I don’t believe in the paranormal. I’m sure there’s some logical explanation, but damned if I can think of one.

There’s a toy museum in our living room

We have a toy museum on the living room floor, and in the bonus room, and in a corner of the kitchen.

Our collection includes probably 100 vintage Hot Wheels, vintage and contemporary Little People playsets, a couple bins of Thomas the Tank Engine trains and track pieces, a couple of lightsabers, some Tonka trucks, at least Trouble board games, several sets of Uno cards, God knows how many action figures and vehicles from McDonald’s Happy Meals and a Bat Cave with a Batmobile and a Batcopter and a Joker-Mobile.

As things tend to do, our toy collection got out of hand slowing, a piece or two at a time.

It turns out that our parents didn’t throw anything away. They saved everything, and when the grandchildren came, they unboxed the toys and sent them to us, which was really sweet, but Thing 2 (the 5-year-old) also has Thing 1’s old toys and a bunch of toys of his own toys, too.

I had this bright idea a while back: For every new (or used) toy that comes in, one goes out to the garage.

That lasted about a day, until Thing 2 decided he really, really, really needed that one fire truck. (Serves me right for getting see-through bins).

So, our house is a mess.

On the other hand, he’s growing up fast, like his sister did. So, the house is cluttered with old toys. I’m going to feel worse when he outgrows them.