It still surprises me the amount of candy one could receive just by donning an old pair of sweatpants and a paper sack from Olson’s Supermarket over your head. Even if we would have had the money, I’m not sure it would have occurred to us to buy a costume. Surely better results could not have been achieved with a store-bought mask. Nor could it have been used as a backup sack when your premier trick or treating bag, also a sack from Olson’s, became filled, or the handles ripped off. Because the women of VanDyke road, and just beyond by the cemetery, would indeed fill your bag. Homemade popcorn balls. Carmeled apples. Full-size Hershey bars. Cookies. We said “Trick or Treat” with full confidence. We were only “treated.”
It would be hard to imagine now, I suppose. But it was real. Mrs.Vacek, beyond grandma old, opened her door, and walked us past the linoleum porch to sit at the kitchen table. Frank, her husband, perhaps only feigning affection, still managed to sit at the table, head in hand, and asked us one by one, not the standard question of “who are you supposed to be,” but he asked, “Who do you belong to?” “Oh, Frank,” Mrs. Vacek would say, knowing full well who we were. “The green house, on Van Dyke road,” I would reply. (Not completely comprehending, although we had walked far in the early setting sun, we were still on Van Dyke road.) Each of us responded with the like — the yellow house, the white house… Because we belonged here – in this neighborhood, in these houses, on this road. A real community, that was the real treat, I guess. We belonged.
It’s what I wish for you. For all. On this, and every day, that you have an easy answer to Frank’s question. Happy Halloween!