Since Halloween has just come and gone, it caused me to think about ones from my past that stand out in my mind. Let me say right to start with that I don’t remember my parents ever spending money on a costume for us when I was a child. We used things that we already had and made a costume so that sometimes people might not have been real sure exactly who or what we were supposed to be. We might put on an old ragged pair of pants and shirt and say we were a hobo or put on a hat and a bandana and say we were a cowboy.
I certainly don’t remember very many people at all who decorated for Halloween like a lot of people do today. It seems like people decorate for all occasions these days. That could be because most stores today promote all holidays because it helps them sell more merchandise. One good example of this is St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, you walk into a store in March and there are shamrocks all over the place, along with lots of other green stuff for sale that I never even heard of as a child. But Christmas especially has really gotten out of hand. The stores are all full of Christmas items for sale before Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Christmas season, but it shouldn’t all be about giving one another presents. It should be about the reason for the season. Then in the middle of all this, it feels as if Thanksgiving has almost been forgotten because of all the hype about Christmas.
Getting back to Halloween, the one I remember most from my early childhood happened when I was eight years old. My younger brother Charles was one-and-a-half at that time. We lived just outside the city limits, but that year we went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood and just kept on going until we reached the more affluent neighborhoods.
Back then there were no thoughts about kids getting anything bad in their candy, such as needles or something that might make them sick. Our parents didn’t think anything about sending the four of us kids off on our own, so Richard, Mike and I put baby brother in our little red wagon and set out pulling him along behind us.
It didn’t take long at all for us to figure out that if we let Charles take the lead and say, “Twic-ur-Tweet,” we got a lot more goodies. Everyone would take a look at him and say: “Isn’t he cute!” Some of them even invited us to come inside their house so they could get a better look at the adorable little boy. I remember some people just held out a big candy dish and said: “Get all you want.” At another house, a couple along with their teenage children; loaded us down with apples and bags of popcorn.
Poor Charles got so tired, he finally didn’t even want to get out of the wagon and walk to the door with us. That’s when we decided it was time to go back home. We had a wagon loaded down with Charles and so many goodies — they were piled high all around him. We had enough candy to last a good long while and probably a lot of cavities to go along with it.
Years later, when my husband and I first got married, we lived in downtown Ellerbe. Our first Halloween there in town was a real eye opener for us. We had bought what we thought was an awful lot of candy. What we didn’t know to start with was people who lived outside of Ellerbe brought their kids into town so they could Trick-or-Treat.
We started out letting the kids get a big handful of candy out of our candy bowl. When kids just kept on coming and kept on coming, we started counting it out ourselves and giving it to them so it would last longer. When we realized our candy supply was almost gone I went into the kitchen and started popping popcorn. Then I bagged it up in little plastic bags. Just about that time we gave out the last of our candy, so we started handing out popcorn instead.
We had been giving out the popcorn for a few minutes when a young girl came to the door. She said: “I came by earlier and you gave me some candy but I just heard you’re giving out popcorn now. I just love popcorn, so could I please have a bag of popcorn, too?”
What could we say but, “Yes?” After all, she did say, “Please!”
Most of us who have dealt with the public for most of our lives know that it makes our days much better if people do say “Please” and “Thank You.” What a better place the world would be if all of us — Me included — would always treat one another with respect and in a manner in which we would like to be treated ourselves.
There is no better saying than The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Since it seems to me as if this year is slipping away “like sands through the hourglass,” I’m going to try and live out those words for the rest of 2016. What about you?
Azalea Bolton is a resident of Richmond County, member of the Story Spinners of Laurinburg, and member of the Richmond and Anson County historical societies.