“A Halloween to Remember,” column for Oct. 22, 2014

What’s your happiest Halloween memory? I hope it’s a lot better than mine. When I was 10, I grew weary of hearing schoolmates brag about their Halloween plans. So I informed my mother, for the first time ever, I planned to trick or treat in our neighborhood.

We lived outside of town. Our nearest neighbors weren’t near. She rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she said, “take your brothers.”

Joe was 6. Blind all his life, he could barely walk. Denton was 5. I called him “Monkey Boy.” Yes, he looked like a monkey and smelled like one, too. That would change, but not soon.

My mind raced to come up with costumes. We’d have to “make do,” as we did in most things, with what was on hand. And the hand was fairly empty.

For myself, I chose something exotic, yet tasteful: A princess with a hastily folded tin-foil tiara and a skirt stuffed with a bouffant slip borrowed on the sly from my teenaged sister.

Monkey Boy was easy. With a banana in his hand, he was good to go. Joe took a bit more work.

“What do you want to be?” I said.

He grinned. “I want to be a ’49 Ford with white-walled tires.”

“Pick something else.”

“Fine,” he said. “I don’t care, as long as I get some candy.”

So I threw a sheet over his head. I started to cut eye holes, but Mama said no, why ruin a sheet if he couldn’t see anyhow? She was hard to argue with.

Then we trudged off, the three of us, a tin-foil princess pulling a blind boy in a sheet, dragging a monkey eating a banana. I wish you could’ve seen us.

The first neighbor was a very kind lady who smelled like mothballs and on cold school days would let me wait in her kitchen to watch for the bus. She opened the door, beaming, patted Joe’s head and said, “Aren’t you a cute little ghost!”

He mumbled into the sheet, “I ain’t a ghost! I’m a mattress!”

Monkey Boy scratched his crotch, took a last bite of banana and handed her the peel.

She gave us each three pieces of fudge. I thanked her and we left. We made two other stops. Neither answered the door.

When we got home Joe said the fudge tasted like mothballs. I gave mine to Monkey Boy. He ate it all. Then he threw up.

It was not my happiest Halloween, but it makes me happy to remember it. Funny, isn’t it? Time often sweetens a memory.

Recently I heard from a woman who needed a costume and asked for a column I wrote years ago with suggestions that had been sent to me by readers. I thought you might like to see some of them, too. So here, free of charge, are a few ideas to make your Halloween, if not happier, more memorable:

“Eve in the Garden of Eden” (three well-place d fig leaves)”; “Buccaneer” (tape a dollar to each ear); “Dog catcher” (carry a stuffed dog to toss up and catch); “Leaf Blower” (blow on a leaf that you hang from the bill of a cap.)

“Tic Tac Toe” (glue Tic Tacs to the toes of your shoes); “Cereal Killer” (carry a box of cereal studded with a plastic knife and dotted with fake blood); “Mixed Greens with Dressing on the Side” (wear shades of green and carry a bottle of salad dressing); “Freudian slip” (don a slip pinned with a photo of Freud); “Vampire victim” (powder on the face, two ink dots on the neck.)

“Cup Holder” (hold a cup); “Black-Eyed Pea” (wear a “P,” black an eye with mascara); “Ceiling Fan” (carry pompoms and chant, “Go, Ceilings!”); “Dust Bunny” (rabbit ears, gray sweats with tufts of polyester); “In Cognito” (hold a sign that reads “world’s sexiest person disguised as me”); “Upper and Lower G.I.” (share army fatigues with a partner, one wears the shirt, the other the pants.)

And remember. You can always throw a sheet over your head and go as a mattress.

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, safe and memorable Halloween.


  1. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

  2. Terry McLaughlin says

    Should be cooking right now but couldn’t let another holiday whiz by without commenting on your Halloween column in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Laughed out loud. So happy to have discovered your blog–love your writing.

  3. I am writing to let you know how much I enjoy your column in the Evansville Courier & Press. I laughed so much while reading your column about Halloween, especially the parts about your brothers. You definitely have a knack. And, I “wish that I could have seen you”.

  4. We were getting your column in newspaper Reporter which we get on Sunday only ,I do read from web site but would like it in newspaper too for more people to read ,I do not know why they stopped publishing it there . I wish they should keep it publishing . It is so good to keep cutting of your column too . Please tell any other newspaper it is published in Philadelphia .

  5. Barb Padgett says

    We used to dress up for Halloween at the office where I worked. It was hard to find a costume that was comfortable and practical enough to wear all day while working. One year I dressed in black sweatshirt and sweatpants and draped myself with those fake cobwebs, and told everyone I was dressed as my apartment.

  6. In our small town the Rotary Club hosted a Halloween parade/costume contest and movie. A drawing was held after the movie but to discourage trick or treating they would call winners after 8 pm, you had to be home to be eligible for prizes.
    When I was eight our phone rang and I rushed down town to collect my prize – a live cheicken – I hauled it home in a gunny sack and it spent the night in the garage. We kept it a couple of days went it was taken to a farmer on the edge of town. we later had it for Sunday dinner.
    You are correct some of the most memorable events are not the happiest, but they do turn out to be the best stories.

  7. My “most memorable” Halloween was the one time my brother and I went trick or treating. We lived in the country and the only close “neighbors” were my paternal grandparents across the road. My Mom took us over (we were still young). My grandmother, who didn’t like children, reluctantly got up and got a cookie, broke it in half and gave us each a half. I’ve yet to figure out if it was a trick or a treat!

  8. KateSciacca says

    Well this column was just the laugh I needed today :-). Never have been much into Halloween – mostly because I never could come up with clever costume ideas for the kids to wear…. Never as clever as all their friends were 🙂

    After moving to the north end of your state the dear hubs has decided to “get into the Halloween spirit” – dressing up the house much better than I ever dressed the kids…. Hope you have a very Happy All Hallows’ Eve. 🙂

  9. So wonderful so heart touching Halloween memory I ever heard ,I know you can make good stories from facts and from the sun and moon and from all universal truths like an angel to make everybody roll in to laughter like I did after reading your fantastic column , which I read every week . God bless you and your family Sharon you a gifted writer ! and I cannot wait one more book of columns , saved from their collection . Please save this one with added new version of coming Halloween,
    have a great day ! Lot of love .

    • I have been reading your column for years, and I have cried, smiled and had lots of laughs with them. This one ” A Halloween to Remember” was no exception. It made me remember some of my Halloweens as a child. That was one of the most fun holidays ever. You make your readers feel as we have known you forever…what a gift. My favorite part of Monday’s paper is your column, and I’m looking forward to reading it many more years . Thank you, Sharon.

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