Queensborough is the perfect place for Halloween, if you ask me. At least, for the trick-or-treating part of the whole affair. I have very happy memories of Halloween when I was a kid growing up in the Manse, going door to door through the village with my siblings, each of us holding by the handle a plastic jack-o-lantern that would get filled with candy. What was nice in our little village was that everyone knew everyone else, so that you didn’t just go to the door and get your treats; you were required to stand there and wait while the residents tried to guess which of the local children you were. No candy until that was all sorted out! And while one could get impatient waiting for the treats, it was always fun to stump people with your costume. (This was before they stopped letting kids wear masks, obviously.)
It seemed like there were just the right number of households in the village to result in kids getting just the right amount of Halloween, and of Halloween candy – not too much, not too little.
And oh my goodness, the candy back then! A lot of it was homemade (which of course you weren’t worried about because the people who had made it were your friends and neighbours), and a lot of it was fudge – and let me tell you, the women of Queensborough knew how to make fudge. Mostly it was maple fudge, but there was usually some chocolate (my favourite) as well. And homemade popcorn balls, with the popcorn held together with delicious sticky-sweet brown goo. Oh man, it was good stuff.
In those days – the 1960s and early 1970s – there were lots of children in Queensborough. (Our total was helped considerably by one household that had about 10 kids). That isn’t the case anymore, so I have no idea how many little trick-or-treaters may end up at the Manse door tomorrow night. I hope there’ll be a good number, because we are ready for them!
My contribution to the jack-o-lanterns was scooping out the innards of the pumpkins. Then to my relief Raymond volunteered for carving duty, and proved to be excellent at it. That done, we hauled out all the boxes and bags of miniature treats we’d bought (far too many, I’m sure, but I couldn’t resist) and loaded them up into individual bags, just like the Sedgwicks used to do for the Halloweens of my childhood. (My mum was not a maker of homemade fudge.) It was a fun evening (especially trying to keep the cat out of the operation), and we felt thoroughly satisfied with ourselves when it was done. I regaled Raymond with tales of Halloweens long past in Queensborough, like how the “tricks” sometimes included pushing over outhouses (which just goes to show you how long ago it was – there were still a few outhouses in those days) and soaping windows. Nothing too menacing; really just some of the local teenagers letting off steam.
So yeah, we’re ready for tomorrow. Not as ready as our neighbours Tom and Joanie, who have their annual huge, fantastic (and thoroughly spooky) Halloween display set up; our two jack-o-lanterns look pretty modest by comparison. But I hope the youngsters who stop in to ooh and aaah at Tom and Joanie’s place will also come round the corner for some treats from the Manse. It will take me back to the long-ago happy Halloweens of my childhood.