Darrell Huckaby - 10/30/09

I hope everybody has a happy Halloween and receives more treats than tricks. Halloween is nothing like it used to be, but what is?

Halloween has always been one day of the year that I really look forward to, and I mean ever since I was a little kid. I can't help but notice that the costumes were a lot simpler back then. They were also geared a lot more toward kids. Nowadays most advertisements I see for Halloween costumes seem to be aimed at adults - and the ones for females leave little to the imagination.

Last year I spent Halloween on the Jacksonville Landing at the Hyatt. They were hosting a costume party on Friday night and my lovely wife, Lisa, let me sit at the bottom of the escalator for about 45 minutes watching people - mostly college-aged people - ride up to the second floor ballroom. Back when I was in college we would have to drive to downtown Atlanta and use a fake ID to see as much skin as we saw in the lobby of the Hyatt hotel last Halloween.

But I was reminiscing about the holidays of my youth. There was no such thing as a store-bought Halloween costume in those days. Kids had to use a little imagination and dress up with whatever they could find in their closet - or their mother's chest-of-drawers.

I was a pretty lazy kid and bad to procrastinate - not that anything has changed - and usually wound up cutting eye-holes in an old sheet and going as a ghost. Once in a great while I could talk my mama into sewing a few extra patches on my clothes and I would rub some soot on my face and tie a bandana to a stick and pretend to be a hobo.

There were an awful lot of ghosts and hobos roaming the streets of Porterdale on Halloween night back in the '50s, and if anyone ever wore a store-bought costume, I never knew about it. But now everybody goes off to the mall or the party store and comes home with some elaborate costume of some sort. I guess that's progress.

My sister did talk my mother into buying her a mask one year, though. It was a hideous looking thing - I think it was supposed to be a witch - with a crooked nose and a big wart on the chin. My sister wore it for several days leading up to the big day and it would scare me to death every time I saw her in it. I was only 4. Give me a break.

The worst part of the whole deal was that about a week after Halloween a lady from church came over for a visit and apparently this lady looked a lot like my sister's mask. According to legend, after our visitor had been at our house for a while, I asked my mother when she was going to take her "door face" off.

I don't remember the incident but have been told about it so often that I have no doubt that it is true. I'm sure I was sent outside to cut a switch after our guest had departed.

The candy was a big deal back in those days, too. There were about 500 houses in Porterdale and we would hit every one of them. We would collect more candy than you could say grace over - enough to last 'til Christmas if you rationed it just right. Sometimes we'd get popcorn balls and candy apples. It was a big deal. I am quite certain that having a big bag full of candy doesn't mean as much to today's kids as it meant to us.

But I still look forward to Halloween, and this Saturday night I will put on some kind of scary costume and hand out treats to the kids who come to the door. I'm trying to get my wife to dress up, too - she thought about going as Nancy Pelosi but I told her that would be too scary.

I am also trying to get my buddy Roy Lee Wilkes to come over and hang out with us this year. Roy Lee is a locksmith and lives up in North Georgia. Last year on Halloween night he got a call to come and open a car door over in the next county at the nudist colony. He called me on his cell phone to tell me about it and I had never heard Roy Lee so excited.

He called me back about an hour-and-a half later and was all down in the mouth. I said, "Roy Lee, what's wrong?"

"It's just my luck," he said. "I finally get a legitimate chance to go to a nudist camp - and they were having a dad-blamed costume party!"

Ol' Roy Lee was expecting treat and wound up being tricked. I hope you come out better than he did.