Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

The Good Stuff

103 Comments

Imagine Courtesy of Wikipedia

Imagine Courtesy of Wikipedia

I grew up in Fairfax County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. My neighborhood had two kinds of houses during Halloween, the houses with the “good stuff” and the houses with the “cheap stuff.” The good stuff was Snickers, Milky Ways, M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Then there was the little clear package that held four or if you’re lucky five candy corns, this was known as the cheap stuff.

Trick-or-treating was all about strategy. You had to hit the houses with the good stuff first, before they ran out. You also wanted to pace yourself in order to conserve energy. Passing up all of the houses with the cheap stuff in order to get the good stuff could be tiring.

I remember there was a particular house that went all out to celebrate Halloween. It was always decorated like a haunted house. Cobwebs and ghosts hung from the trees and Monster Mash blasted through the sound system. They even had a coffin in their foyer.

In order to get your King Sized candy bar which was known neighbor wide as the really, really good stuff, you had to reach inside the coffin. Some years there would be someone under a blanket who would grab your wrist when you reached inside. Other years a large mummy would pop out from behind the bushes and scare you away. You had to snatch the candy fast or fear would send you running empty handed.

Sometimes I would get that huge candy bar, but other years I was too scared and took off running. That family went to a lot of trouble each year to make the Halloween experience extra special, so special that after forty years, I can still picture it perfectly in my mind.

Do you have any special memories of Halloween?

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

103 thoughts on “The Good Stuff

  1. Hershey’s Chocolate World is the name of 7 visitor centers which started in Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States. Another installation opened on June 3, 2014 to New York-New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Strip, Nevada, United States. Open year-round, Hershey’s Chocolate World offers marketplace shops and restaurants, specializing in Hershey’s chocolate products. Attractions include Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery IN 4D, the Hershey Trolley Works, Factory Works Experience, and a free Chocolate Tour ride.

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  2. Our Halloweens were brilliant as kids. Living in a neighborhood full of children, we would congregate and walk together, (with at least two parents), and there were those houses you knew would give you a lot of contraband. Never had to reach into a coffin, (scary), but the older boys often played nasty tricks on us. Fun post Jill.

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    • They really were, Renee. It seems so different now. These days there seems to be half the number of kids out and about on Halloween. I always wondered where that family got the coffin. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your weekend.

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  3. Neat post! I only trick-or-treated once…(we lived in a very rural area, no parties at school and churches didn’t do the fall festivals on Oct 31, like they do now). I think I went to two of the neighbor’s houses.
    BUT, I remember my mom making homemade fudge for Halloween, and putting it in little baggies (pre zip-lock days) to give to the trick or treaters. Unheard of – these days.
    It was a much simpler, kinder world we lived in then.
    Happy Halloween – hope you get the good stuff!

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    • You’re right, Dianna, these days anything homemade probably gets thrown away. Living in a rural area makes it more difficult to trick-or-treat. My father grew up on a farm. He told me they had to drive to the local town in order to get a few treats. Happy Halloween to you too!

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  4. What a great story, Jill! I suspect I would never have gotten a big candy bar 😉 I remember my mom making caramel apples for Halloween, way back in the day when people (at least rural folk) made their own treats. But I don’t remember going out much as a kid or even dressing up. I’m sure I did both, but no memories.

    I have to admit, I dread Halloween. Even though I’ve lived in my neighborhood for over 20 years, I don’t know any of the kids. In fact, parents here drive their kids around to different neighborhoods so you don’t know who is coming to your door. Over the years though, fewer and fewer kids show up and I live in the suburbs so go figure. These days we buy mini-Clif bars so if we don’t get any trick-or-treaters, at least we won’t mind having treats left over 😉

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    • I had to laugh, Marie. We’ve been in our home for ten years and know very few of the kids. Like you, we get a lot of trucks and SUVs full of kids who I know aren’t from our neighborhood. When we were kids, we had to walk for our candy, we never got a personal chauffer. I hope your leftover mini-Clif bars provide some energy for you as you take on the NANOWRIMO challenge…good luck! xo

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  5. Halloween has definitely changed. I have similar childhood memories to yours, Jill. My children were also lucky enough to grow up in a neighborhood where one family went all out to create a ghoulish wonderland, and almost every house had some sort of decoration. I made costumes for my girls every year until they were old enough to create their own—my all-time favorite sewing projects. But I haven’t had a child come to my door in several years now, which makes me sad.

    Did your parents “help you sort” your candy when you were finished for the evening? I remember offering my dad the Smarties, but he wanted to arm wrestle for those big candy bars!

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    • I love that you made the girls costumes yourself, Candace. It is sad how different Halloween is today.
      Oh yes, my mother was in charge of inspecting and sorting the candy. If my father had gotten a hold of the bag, all the good stuff would have disappeared. I hope he’s not reading this… 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Our Halloweens weren’t spooky or scary but rather filled with pumpkin charm…carved pumpkins, “good stuff” to pass out and friendly neighbors who opened their doors to welcome us in so they could see our costumes.
    Nowadays…when we take grandson out, we drive him to the homes of friends and family, drop in briefly to “trick or trick” , show off his costume, perhaps take a picture and exchange a good word.

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  7. Sounds like so much fun. I always gave the good stuff. This year I am doing something different giving out bags of potato chips and snacks instead of candy. Part of why I am doing this is that I had so many kids last year grab the small bags of pretzels out of the candy. They were trick or treating but weren’t allowed to eat candy. So we will see if I am still on the good stuff list after this experiment.

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  8. We live in an area that has one child so trick or treat is out of the question. Before this, we were in a neighborhood where we all knew each other and we all kicked in for a frozen margarita machine. We would put the thing in the street for the parents and you more or less had to give out good stuff since everyone knew what each house was offering. Parents and kids had a blast.

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  9. We had wonderful times on Halloween ~ our neighborhood had 40 houses. Perfect when we were 10 and under. When we got older, we ventured into the next neighborhood over as well.

    One neighbor set up a mini carnival in his garage every Halloween ~ complete with popcorn machine, candy apples, cotton candy, etc.

    Some neighbors gave out homemade treats ~ candy apples, caramel apples, popcorn balls, fudge.

    My mother usually bought less candy than she needed so she would buy candy from us to refill her trick or treat bowl. We didn’t mind, we loved the money . . . and we kept the “GOOD STUFF” for us.

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  10. How I love your memories of a Fairfax Halloween, the good stuff vs. the cheap, and the really really good stuff at the scary house. I would have run away scared too. My Halloweens were great fun but never as exciting as that. 🙂

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  11. None of my childhood memories stick out but I have a friend who goes all out. She dresses like a witch, has a caldron filled with dry ice. Her house is all spooky looking on the outside and she terrified all the kids. They come from miles away to see it all.

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  12. Thanks for your memories! I have similar ones. I lived in a neighborhood of intersecting streets lined with little Cape Cod houses. We’d go from door to door gripping a pillow case for our candy. Loved it when we got full size bars! Hated it when I was asked for a trick before I got my treat. I was never ready for that one and would usually be let off the hook. Up the street, just outside, our ‘hood the houses and properties got bigger. There was one large raiser ranch who’s owner usually gave out apples. As soon as we walked up the street we would toss them. The little bites of candy I bought to give out tonight seem so small in comparison to when I was growing up!

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    • Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Geralyn. I don’t recall ever getting an apple, but I did get a couple popcorn balls…my mother would never let us eat anything homemade. I agree, everything is shrinking in size, but the price goes up. Have a great weekend!

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  13. My brother and I used to trick-or-treat for 3 or 4 hours. By the time we got home, we had pillowcases full of candy. Oh, our poor teeth.

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    • Ha ha! We used to do the marathon sessions too, Carrie. Our goal was to at least fill the pillowcase 3/4 of the way. Despite all of the candy, my teeth held up pretty well. I don’t eat sugar as an adult and I’ve had more cavities than I did as a kid…go figure.

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  14. Jill, like you my brothers, friends, and I had a strategy: go for the houses with the good candy. Sometimes, we hit those houses twice. Candy bars and Hershey Kisses were always appreciated. But yeah, the candy corn was not high on our list of good candy.
    Mom would commandeer our bags of candy to make sure we wouldn’t keep eating it all night. She also wanted to inspect the candy to make sure no one slipped anything into it.

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    • Two times! Wow, L. Marie, you wanted those candy bars! Our legs were usually tired after the first time around. Ha ha, our mother took our bags also, to inspect and to sneak out a few of her favorites. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your memories!

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  15. Jill that sounds so exciting!!! The house with the coffin! And the big candy bar!!! I have good memories of bringing home a lot of candy. So much I would have to come home and change bags several times! My husband goes all out for the kids in the neighborhood. He decorated last night until midnight! All the kids say ours is the “best house.” The colored lights, the sound effects. I most definitely will tell him about your coffin experience. But guess who will have to be in the coffin all night???? 🙂

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    • Wow, Hollis! I never had to change bags. 🙂 I love to hear that you’ve got the “best house.” You should share some photographs of your husband’s creation. I have no idea where that family got the coffin, but the older sons took turns laying in it. Not exactly the way I’d want to spend Halloween. 🙂

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      • How funny! No, I wouldn’t like to spend Halloween like that either: In the coffin for the benefit of the kids’ fun!!!!! Thanks for your “like” on Facebook. Yes, there you can see the front of the house. My husband spent a lot of time on the lighting! It really was creepy and the kids’ appreciation made my husband feel good! In fact, that is why he does it every year! 🙂

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      • He really did a great job, Hollis! I hope you all leave them up for a few days.

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  16. Excellent that neighbours entered into the spirit like that.

    Generally I think Hallowe’en has been re-packaged by the USA and sent back to the UK. I don’t remember it at all as a child and even now it’s a bit of a half-hearted affair – a chance for the little ones to act out make-believe and the teens to party.

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    • Thanks for sharing the UK version of Halloween, Roy. It’s changed quite a bit from when we were young. I think many parents don’t feel comfortable allowing their children to accept candy from people they don’t know. Unfortunately, these days, you don’t always know everyone in the neighborhood.

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  17. Hahaha, oh, I love that story about people in that house making kids face their fears to go for the big candy! How exciting!!! I was too passive and too dumb to ever strategize how to get the best candy. I always just hoped for the best. Mostly, my neighborhood had the “cheap” stuff. There was a rumor that at a really posh neighborhood in town you could get a full sized candy bar or even a dollar bill, but of course that seemed like fantasy.

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    • Ha ha…your comment sounded like something Charlie Brown would say about himself, Luanne. 🙂 I can still remember how my heart would pound when I approached that house…you might have been ‘passive and dumb’ but I was a big chicken.

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  18. I liked to get the chocolate bars and candy apples, sometimes the popcorn balls. I remember enjoying the scary houses, but would cling to my brothers as we went up the steps. We had our Dad there on the sidewalk, watching. There were moments when I was walking with my own three children, worried about the big piles of leaves on the side of the road, since once while a child, someone emerged in a scary Frankenstein mask, rose up from a pile! Wow! That sure frightened all 3 of us! Never happened with my own 3, but unfortunately, my big mouth told them when they were in junior high, thinking they would enjoy this ‘scary’ story, and my son proceeded to conduct his own ‘research’ on fright, by getting two friends to climb into piles around my little town of Delaware, Ohio.
    I loved the idea of ‘facing your fears’ in a scary situation being the way to get the biggest candy bar, Jill! (There would have been a few years I would have run away from this, unless my brothers did it first!) ha ha!

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  19. No specific memories, but I do remember the joys of Trick or Treating as a kid…of course there were always the stories of razor blades in the candy, etc, but we never experienced anything like that. Even in our rural area, almost all of the houses were handing out candy and we also knew where the really, really good stuff was. 😉

    I hope to relive some of that excitement when Angus gets a little older!

    Have a great weekend, Jill. 🙂

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    • Oh yes, Phillip, I remember the stories about cyanide in the pixie stick straws and of course, the razor blades. My mother inspected our candy, but we always got the clear to dig in. 🙂
      I’ll look forward to pictures of Angus in his costume. Happy Weekend!

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  20. Oh Jill, you wrote about the Monster Mash and so did I! We definitely did just the same as you at Halloween except I only did it with my kids as I didn’t ‘do’ Halloween like this when I was growing up. It was so different in England, Halloween has only recently taken off here. As I type this to you in the evening, we have our Jack-O-Lantern carved and lit thanks to daughter, our pumpkin bowl filled with candies for the trick or treaters and some good spooky films lined up. Not forgetting the popcorn of course. Just keeping the traditions going! I do miss those days with the kids. Thanks so much for sharing your Halloween memories, I love reading this post. Happy Halloween my friend, hope you and DFD have a blast 🙂 xoxo

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    • Yes we did, Sherri! I loved your post and all of the lovely photographs of past Halloween memories with your children. I’m so happy to hear you’re keeping the tradition alive. I wonder if you had any bubbly to go along with those treats? 🙂 I hope you had a great time and continue to enjoy your weekend! DFD says hello! 🙂 xo

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      • Ahh…thanks Jill and I’m glad you did too! No bubbly this weekend but I did enjoy a nice glass of wine after not being able to drink anything for a couple of weeks thanks to antibiotics 😉 We had a lovely but very quiet time, not many trick or treaters this year but C did get some compliments again on her carving. I just realised when I said about the Monster Mash I was thinking of the post I wrote last year which I linked to. I had to read it again thinking I was losing the plot, ha! Say hello back to DFD for me and have a great week 🙂 xoxo

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      • I wasn’t sure about your Monster Mash mention, I thought maybe you’d been in the bubbly. 🙂 C did a great job with her pumpkin!

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  21. I enjoy reading about the way Halloween is celebrated in the US. as it is not an event here. Sounds equal parts fun and scary!

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  22. I do like it when people make an effort with their house!

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  23. I mostly remember the cool weather and the fallen leaves and the sidewalks under streetlights. I always wore a homemade costume as well. My mom would sew the garments and my older brother would fabricate the weapons and head gear. I was Iron Man 25 years before it became a global movie franshise, and damn it I want recognition for that!

    I’d love to deck the place out for Halloween, but I live in an apartment and don’t have any space outside to do it right. It would be cool to be knwon as the Cool House on Halloween though.

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    • Ha ha! Thanks for sharing your Halloween memories, Eric. Sorry you missed out on the Iron Man fame and fortune…you’ll just have to keep writing that book and sell it to Hollywood. Enjoy your weekend!

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  24. For me, trick or treating was all about the candy. Nothing would scare me away. (Though, truth be told, our neighbors weren’t very scary.) I definitely categorized the candy into good stuff and cheap stuff. Chocolate was always good stuff.
    Despite my excitement at the candy, I made it last. My Halloween candy often lasted until Easter, when the bunny replenished my stash, and that would last until the next Halloween. It wasn’t that I got so much. It was just that I never wanted to run out.
    Thanks for bringing back memories.
    Theresa

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    • Ha ha…I love that you made your candy last from one holiday to the next. My Halloween candy was usually gone by Thanksgiving, but I think my mom and dad snuck a piece now and then. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your memories. Have a great weekend.

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  25. Awe…Jill. You brought back so many lovely memories with this post. 🙂 But my favorite memories aren’t of my own childhood, but of taking my children out. Especially when my oldest was little. We lived on this street where everyone dressed up in costumes, adults and kids alike. Then we’d all go up and down the sidewalks from house to house. It was like a giant block party or something you’d see at the movies of the perfect trick or treat scenes. So much fun. I hope you have a very happy Halloween.

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  26. What a great way to entice kids to go into the coffin – offering King size candy! Perfect! I would have been too chicken to even try. 🙂 I remember the houses that offered apples, raisins and tooth brushes! AY! No bueno. Counting the loot afterwards is my best memory! 🙂

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    • Tooth brushes! Really? I do remember the raisins, not a big fan of those. Oh yes, counting and sorting by types of candy was always fun. I hope you feeling well, Maria, I’ve been thinking about you. xo

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  27. Wow! Sounds scarey. Was there a sign to warn the very small children?

    When I was newly married, my grandma and her friends came to our house to trick-or-treat. In those days it wasn’t as common for adults to wear costumes unless it was for a party. We didn’t recognize my grandma at first. She said she laughed so hard she almost wet her pants.

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    • Ha ha! What a great story, Nicki, thanks for sharing. Funny, my mother just told me a story about her mother not recognizing her while wearing a Halloween custom. My grandmother thought an intruder had entered the house. As far as a warning for smaller children, they did make it known to the parents. Enjoy your weekend!

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  28. We had a neighbor who gave full-sized candy bars, too, Jill–but we had to reach inside the skulls of animals to get them (he was a hunter)–and he would put red jello in the skulls of deer at Halloween. I remember one time when his wife came out and pulled the entire bag of candy bars out of a deer’s skull and passed it around to us, and gave him a killer look.

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    • What a great story, Marylin! I guess he forgot to clear his mischievous behavior with his wife first. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to reach into a bloody skull, even if it was only Jello. Thanks for sharing!

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  29. I read this and all the comments with so much interest because of course we never had Halloween here, it’s only a recent import from the States so my generation don’t really celebrate it. We waited until November 5th and then celebrated the fact that Guy Fawkes didn’t manage to blow up the Houses of Parliament with bonfires and fireworks. This is still a big event here, so kids today get two fun nights in the space of a week.

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    • Jenny, I remember Halloween was starting to filter into Europe and Britain when we lived over there (2000-05). Every year there seemed to be a little bit more. Last night I surfed around on Facebook and saw many of our British friends’ children dressed up for trick-or-treat. I also recall one year we happened to fly over the UK on Guy Fawkes night. It was cool to see all the glowing fires and fireworks from up in the sky.

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    • Oh yes, Jenny, I seem to recall you wrote about Guy Fawkes last year. Halloween has changed in many ways, most noticeable the decrease in participation. Have a great weekend and thanks for visiting.

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  30. Jill, you could be describing Halloween in my neighborhood in 2014. Little has changed, at least around these parts. The kids know which homes hand out the good stuff, the really good stuff, the hot chocolate (and hot toddy for adults), and which lazy homes leave a basket on the porch for trick-or-treaters to pilfer at will. They’ve got the system all worked out, so I leave them to it and stay inside the warm house to hand out our middle-of-the road candy selection. A vicious polar vortex descended upon Chicago yesterday, giving us one of the coldest Halloweens on record, so traffic was pretty light. I dumped the candy into bags by the handful, just to ensure it was out of my house! Hope you and Derek had fun, too.

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    • I never understood people who leave a bowl of candy on the porch. I would think some greedy older kids would come by and empty the entire bowl into their bags. I heard about the cold front that marched across the mid-West, Gwen. We also had a front blast through around 9:00 p.m. Heavy rains and thunderstorms brought an abrupt end to Halloween this year. Ha ha…good move, get the candy out of the house! Have a great weekend!

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  31. Sadly no Halloween memories from when I was child Jill as we didn’t celebrate it in Africa 😦 does having a ghost sit on your bed count? Don’t think this visitation happened on Halloween though 😀 oh well.. I had to laugh at your post as hubby and I visited a small town yesterday and all the kids were out at lunchtime getting candy from the main (and only) street shops and we remarked that we thought it was a little early. One of the darlings (a ninja) replied by pointing out that they came early to ‘get the good stuff’ 😀

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    • Uh…yes, Yolanda…having a ghost sit on your bed does indeed count. Do tell! That’s funny, I suppose getting the ‘good stuff’ is known by all trick-or-treaters. 🙂 It’s nice to see businesses opening their doors on Halloween. Many of the shopping malls in our area do the same. Enjoy your weekend! xo

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  32. I bet your neighbor had a blast putting that on every year, too, and remembers fondly how he scared the jeebies out of many a child! My office is in an historical residential area and I’ve noticed for years that the houses are pretty decked out for Halloween. Last year, for the first time, I happened to still be at the office when the trick-or-treating started. What a sight!! Cemetery yards emitted swirling vapors, cauldrons were stirred, creepy music could be heard up and down the street and costumed (presumably humans) of all sizes meandered the sidewalks. It’s the kind of neighborhood kids are driven to and dropped off in. I drove around for a few minutes, checking out the action and finally gave in and just parked for a half-hour to enjoy the show!

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  33. Halloween when I was a child was hardly celebrated at all – we didn’t go trick or treating and just made a small lantern from a turnip – still love it though 🙂

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  34. Jill thats the stuff of nightmares and good laughs all in one. We never had Halloween but I watched the American TV shows envious of all the fun and candy. Thanks for a real good memory it made me smile, some people are just too cool and that family must have been the bomb.

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  35. Jill:
    Ah, those wonderful once-a-year Halloween moments! Most of my activities involved more mischievous intents: soaping windows, sticking horns, etc. 🙂

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  36. I remember there was a family nearby that liked to give away lobsters on Halloween. It must have been quite expensive, but they would give a fresh lobster to anyone who stopped by. I never found out whether they had some sort of giant aquarium in their house — a large freezer is the more likely bet, I suppose.

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    • Lobsters! Oh my word, Chris, I’ve never heard of such a thing. That was more of a treat for parents, I would think. I didn’t learn to appreciate how wonderful lobster is until I was an adult. Thanks for sharing, Chris. It’s good to see you. Enjoy your week!

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  37. My brother usually has that “good house”. He missed it this year because my 14 year old nephew had a hockey game. I’m not sure who was the most disappointed they had to miss the big night!

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  38. I would totally be too scared! Although, my love for chocolate might be enough to get me to reach inside that coffin… 😉 I used to work in a haunted house when I was a kid – I was really flexible, and found this spot wedged into a tiny gap behind a chair, and when people would crawl through a tunnel into the room I was in, I would shove a mummy off the chair at them. Worked almost every time. 😉

    Happy Halloween! We’ve missed reading your blog during our hiatus – have a lot of catching up to do! 🙂

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    • Hey! It’s great to see you, welcome back! What a great job for a kid. I bet it was fun watching people’s reactions. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to crawl through that tunnel. Have a great week!

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  39. Hey Jill. Just got to read this post now. How cool of your neighbors. We never had anyone so elaborate when I was growing up. How fun.

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  40. I have been meaning to stop by and read. The opportunity finally presented and I’m taking advantage of the quiet mornings before the real work begins. I missed Halloween…again. I didn’t do it as a child often but took my children when it was possible. Now, my daughter, she really gets into it. I’m finally getting to start following you. With a bit more time, hopefully soon, I can learn something from you. I’ll be going back and reading some of your earlier posts. Meant to do that sooner but everyone seems to be in transition this year! I’m enjoying everything I read here. 🙂

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  41. I used to hate the houses that gave out suckers. What the? Yes, candy bars were my fave. Still are.

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  42. Trick or treating with my granddaughters this year had me contrasting my own past experiences with what life is like now for kids. We made our own costumes, with the help of parents when we were younger. It certainly meant a lot more variety on the streets than I see these days. We lived in a small rural community, so the huge pillow case full of candy was never a possibility. But the thrills and chills of Halloween night are the same. Little faces delighted with their own ability to face down the ghoulish decorations in order to get that treat. Some things never change.

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    • You’re right, Francis. Although costumes and the volume of trick or treaters has changed, that sense of excitement in the younger children never seems to change. I do notice that some of the older kids don’t say ‘trick or treat’, they just hold their bag open. I guess they’re too cool.:) Your granddaughters are so adorable!

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  43. Only that this was the first North American Halloween we handed out candy from my brother’s house in 29 years. Only 25 kids. Soooo disappointing.

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  44. I’ve never been keen on ghosties and ghoulies, Jill, but I love it that there are people who will go to all this trouble. 🙂 My daughter throws herself into stuff like this. One year she spent Halloween with me in the Algarve and she brought baby pumpkin lights, bats and spooky balloons with her.

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