Cold, Colors, and Candy | HumorOutcasts

Cold, Colors, and Candy

October 22, 2015

Unless you’re one of those people of questionable sanity who likes cold weather, October has little to offer Hoosiers except autumn colors and Halloween.

But by Halloween the leaves have usually fallen and the days are short. This gives me a feeling of bleakness and dread that … come to think of it, bleakness and dread are very Halloweenie.

But no matter how you feel about the weather (it stinks), Halloween is the beginning of snack season. Through Thanksgiving and Christmas and on to Valentine’s Day, we get to pack on a nice layer of fat against the cold.

It doesn’t really help. But what the heck, any excuse for chocolate.

As with most things, Halloween is more fun to kids. These days I’m expected to turn on my porch light and give candy to other people. I’d rather hide in the dark and let the dog scare off anyone who approaches. There’s a cocoa shortage, people—chocolate charity begins at home.

But when I was younger, it was one of the highlights of the year. In elementary school we’d spend October making decorations of ghosts, witches, and of course pumpkins with scary faces.

I wonder if that’s allowed, these days? They’ve probably banned that kind of stuff from public schools, along with cardboard pilgrims and anything Christmas. I liked the pilgrims, although even then I knew they’d be toast without Squanto and his corn crop (not that they had any toast).

Where was I? Oh yeah—candy. My family didn’t exactly hand out candy like candy … back then treats were, well, a treat. But on one glorious night we could collect enough candy to keep us going until Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t seen as a dangerous holiday, at the time. (This would be in the 70s. No, wait. Let’s change that to the 80s. Yeah, the 80s.) On the contrary, this was the night when it was quite literally okay to take candy from strangers.

Our dad would load us into the back of his El Camino for a trip to the store, which had highly flammable costumes and masks that rendered us mostly blind, then—

Oh, the El Camino? Well, it’s kind of a half car, half pickup truck. We didn’t worry about belting into the too-small front, because there were no seat belts.

Anyway, we waited until it got pitch dark and then hit the streets, methodically knocking on every door. Sometimes we’d get apples, which was not exactly a jump for joy moment. Packaged candy was okay, but the really nice people would make things from scratch, like those wonderful popcorn balls or caramel apples—which beat plain apples hands down.

The only glitch I remember is when we reached the home of a deaf old fellow who had no idea it was Halloween. He was probably the guy who later invented the idea of only trick or treating at homes with porch lights on. Or, maybe he was hoarding his chocolate.

Just as our parents passed out the last of their candy, we got home with more candy. It was important to eat the homemade stuff, like caramel apples and popcorn balls, first. If you weren’t too much of a glutton, you could string the rest along for weeks.

The times were so much less dangerous.

Now, some of you might be horrified by this. Some might smile at the exaggeration, then be horrified to discover it wasn’t an exaggeration: That’s the way it happened for some of us in the small towns of the mid-70s—I mean, 80s. This was a time when, if we did something stupid like walk in the middle of the street, our parents would get three phone calls and be standing at the front door by the time we made it home. When everyone knows everyone else, it’s not as dangerous as it sounds on paper.

We did know about the dangers, as shown in the very first short story I ever had published, in the late … 80s. It was about a hungry vampire who drinks his own blood after biting down on a razor blade inside a Halloween apple. If anyone still has that old copy of the Central Noble High School Cat Tracks, you’ll find the story to be very, very bad.

Just the same, the worst thing we ever experienced was a tummy ache.


Mark Emi Zombies

As is sometimes necessary with marriage, my wife examines me for brains.

Mark R Hunter

Mark R Hunter is the author of three romantic comedies: Radio Red, Storm Chaser, and its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, as well as a related story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. He also wrote a young adult adventure, The No-Campfire Girls, and a humor collection, Slightly Off the Mark. In addition, he collaborated with his wife, Emily, on the history books Images of America: Albion and Noble County, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, and Hoosier Hysterical. Mark’s work also appeared in the anthologies My Funny Valentine and Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology. For two decades Mark R Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 32 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically. Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book.

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6 Responses to Cold, Colors, and Candy

  1. Bill Y Ledden
    October 24, 2015 at 5:59 am

    My imaginary kids never get any treats when they head out for Halloween.

    • October 24, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      Are you sure? Maybe it’s all in your head.

  2. Kathy Minicozzi
    October 23, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Funny, this sounds just like Halloween in our home town in the 19(mumble mumble)’s.

    • October 24, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      Small towns were more alike than they were different!

  3. October 22, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Hm. Are you menopausal Mark? I think there is a support group for the chocolate thing. 🙂

    • October 23, 2015 at 1:06 am

      But I’m cold all the time — wouldn’t that mean I’d get hot flashes?

      Anyway, if the support group is meant to make me stop eating chocolate … forget it!

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