The day after Halloween was a dark day. A dark day indeed.
Nov. 1 meant it was over. The horror movies you enjoyed, the costume you worked to make just right, the carnivals held at local schools and of course the great trick or treating.
The annual trek around the neighborhood carrying your plastic pumpkin or bag or even pillowcase was something we looked forward to for ages. My neighborhood was packed with kids, and that meant all the houses were well stocked with candy for all of us greedy goblins.
The day after was the day you finished off all of the “good candy” you got the night before. I wish I could say it took weeks, but honestly it did not.
Of course, we didn’t have the incredible candy choices kids do these days. Bite size Snickers or Baby Ruth bars were not around all those decades ago, so we had to live with what we got. And let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.
The good: Smarties, Bit-O-Honey, red licorice, butterscotch candies and, well, that was pretty much it.
Our bags and pumpkins would be mostly filled with those candies that were wrapped in either orange or black wax paper. Or worse yet homemade candies. Yes, they were terrible.
But worst included popcorn balls, candied apples and pennies (man, I hated when someone dropped a single penny in my plastic pumpkin!)
The worst of the worst, of course, was the one or two overly-religious moms in the neighborhood who would drop a Bible verse on a piece of paper in your container. No kid craving sweet treats wants a reminder that he or she is going to hell when this is all over.
Look, it was bad enough that my parents dragged me to church every Sunday. I didn’t dress up as Frankenstein’s monster to have the mom of a kid on my little league team remind me that I am a horrible sinner.
In those days, trick or treat was held on Halloween, so that could fall on any day of the week. There were also no set hours. Start when it gets dark and stop when all of the porch lights are off, or when the older kids start hassling you.
Then it was back home to check your stash like a mob accountant counting the money. Good candy to one side, bad candy to the other. If I am being honest, I shoved most of the good candy into my face that very night in my bedroom – my mom none the wiser.
The next day you pick through the remains like a buzzard on a carcass, taking a few leftover choice pieces to school so you could gloat about your haul on the playground. Well, the ones that my older brothers didn’t take from me. Too old to go door to door begging for candy, but not too old to grab some of the sweet stuff from their little brother.
The rest? The fresh stuff got tossed, or dad ate it. The remaining crappy candy was put back into the plastic pumpkin, shoved in the dark corners of my small closet next to an old stinky cast and a forgotten birthday sweater and left to sit until next year.
And if kids today are like we were back them, the countdown to Christmas would be on. What is better than mountain of candy? Presents, of course. Yes, we were greedy … we were kids.
Brad Jennings is the editor of the Ogle County Life.