Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween: Gorillas, Frigid Weather, and 12 Grocery Bags of Candy

Halloween: Gorillas, Frigid Weather, and 12 Grocery Bags of Candy
Darrel L. Hammon

Halloween in eastern Idaho can be doggone cold, and I remember those cold Halloweens, replete with frigid weather, often snow and a biting wind, curling around the old Menan Buttes, seeping down the Snake River, and then on to Menan, Idaho, formerly known as Poole’s Island. But the coldness normally dissipates when I think of Halloween in Menan.
Our costumes were never as elaborate as the costumes today. In fact, our costumes were merely masks that covered our faces. When it was cold, we bundled up in our snowmobile suits, those dark green snow pacs, and brown Jersey gloves with fingers. The only thing available for any kind of costume was our face. Thus, a mask was sufficient for our needs. They weren’t the plastic kind either; rather, they were made from a thin rubber and seemed to stick to your face, especially in the cold when your breath was warm. I didn’t like the mask, but it was part of the drill of scurrying from house to house and “trick or treating.”
                In those days, people could give out homemade treats, and that was the best part—candied apples; regular Red Delicious apples from the neighbors’ trees; the stickiest popcorn balls ever; sometimes Rice Crispy treats; chocolate chip or sugar cookies, draped with orange frosting and chocolate eyes; and the usual array of candy.
Our most favorite and usually last stop was the Hart farm, which was about two miles from our home. Mr. Hart and his son Bud lived there. Mrs. Hart had long since passed away, and Bud never married. They lived in the country in a beautiful old home, surround by huge cottonwood trees. We clamored to the door and knocked loudly. Usually Mr. Hart would saunter over and open the door, feigning surprise at the hoards of masked children. They invited us in after we sang some sort of gibberish song.
Once inside, we stood there in awe, our bags dangling from our gloved hands. The living room was a mass of chairs, probably 10 or 12, arrayed in a half circle. A big grocery paper bag sat, bulging, on top of each seat. Inside each bag was a different kind of candy or goodie. I remember taking just one piece from each bag. Bud strolled over, looked at me, and said, “This is how you do it.” He stuck his big paw into the bag and grabbed a handful. Then, making sure my bag was open, he dumped the contents into it. I just looked up, amazed! So, I followed suit with each subsequent bag. By the time I reached the end of the half circle of chairs, my own Halloween bag was stuffed full.
When we finished, Mr. Hart looked at each of us and ask, “So, who’s driving you tonight.” We chorused, “Our Mother.” With that, he handed us a bag of Hersey’s kisses or some bag or box of chocolates and said, “Now, take this to her.”
Saying a million thanks, we jumped off the big porch and headed out into the cold night to Mom and a warm car. We excitedly handed the bag or box of chocolates to Mom who smiled. She always asked, “Did you tell them thank you?” We all yelled in unison: “Yes!” I think she loved coming here more than we did.
My Halloween always consisted of going home and dumping the entire contents of my Saving Center bag out onto the floor. Then, I carefully counted and categorized the various pieces of candy and goodies I had received. Often, we had contests as to who had gathered the most candy.
Part of Halloween’s was the knock on our back door at the beginning of our Halloween night. As we opened the door, a huge gorilla charged into the room, eliciting monster screams and us scurrying to get out of the way. Inside the incredibly realistic gorilla suit was either Uncle Wilfred or one of his two sons, Terry or Deloy. They were big boys who could toss up 70 pound hay bales, one handed onto the Uncle Milt’s hay wagon. As we came out from our hiding places, they would just laugh and laugh. Each year that happened, and it scared me each and every time although I knew full well who it was.
Both Mr. Hart and Bud have long since passed on. Each time I drive down the Lewisville Highway to the blinking light where we turn east to go to Menan, I look just a bit north to the Hart home on the west side of the road and remember the times we visited their home at Halloween and then later working for them.
Then, I pass Uncle Wilfred’s white home where he used to live. I remember the long bed of white carnations and the gorilla suit. Both Terry and Deloy have gone on as well as Uncle Wilfred. I don’t know what happened to the gorilla suit. But I suspect, Terry and Deloy are still causing people to scream and yell with their antics.

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