My parents were fairly normal, back in the ’60s. Like something out of “The Donna Reed Show,” they’d get together with their best friends and play bridge.
One October, after a few hands, they got to thinking about Halloween. They decided that they’d get a little … creative, shall we say, about handing out candy.
The concept was simple. Kids would knock on the door, and instead of being greeted by The Homeowner with a bowl of candy, the kids would be ushered into the house.
It was a normal-enough scene, except for the part where there was an old lady sitting on a rocker, and except for the part where the living room was dark, lit by a single candle. In her lap, the crone held The Bowl of Candy. All the kids had to do was walk over to the old lady and pick their candy out of the bowl. They could have as much as they wanted to take.
No one took any. Kids fled, screaming.
Which turned out to be a fairly popular concept. Over the course of 10 years, the Fab Four put together routines like:
• House of Wax. Kids were greeted by a museum docent, who led the kids through the dark downstairs of our home viewing “wax” Figures of Evil like the Boston Strangler, King Tut’s slave, and Lizzie Borden. The tour ended with Lizzie and her friends chasing the trick-or-treaters with a hatchet as the kids fled the house, screaming.
• Mourning Lady. Kids were greeted by The Homeowner in our darkened home and told there’d been a death in the family, but they should have a seat while he got the candy. A coffin sat in front of the fireplace, and presently a mourning lady came down the stairs, softly weeping and settling by the coffin to grieve. She didn’t notice, but the kids on the couch sure did, that the coffin was opening and OMG THE CORPSE IS GONNA KILL HER! and the whole thing ended when The Homeowner came tearing in with a cap pistol and “shot” the corpse. Cut to kids, fleeing and screaming.
“Kids flee screaming” is the way every sentence ends when my parents are involved this time of year.
Halloween for one of the Stocking kids meant that you were a crash test dummy for their dry runs, helping them work on timing and blocking, etc. You’d have to sneak in between shows and sit in a closet to sort your candy; otherwise you’d end up serving as a ghoulish bouncer for the inevitable line at the front door, or stomping around in big boots through dry ice fog, or screaming into a microphone so mom could have a cigarette in the basement.
We moved to Arizona in 1972 and a real Donna Reed-like family bought our house. They probably wondered why the hatchet in the basement was covered with red paint.
I can only imagine what happened on that first Halloween night when the doorbell rang and they opened the front door expecting to dish out candy and were greeted by the shock of 200 trick-or-treaters who were expecting Dr. Reed to chase them with a cap pistol so they could do what they wanted to do: flee screaming.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.