It was the mid-1960’s and my first Halloween as an adult. I was starting my teaching career in Ann Arbor, living with a roommate in a small house in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. We had no idea how many kids there were, but we would soon find out.
The candy was gone in the first 20 minutes, and the ghosts and witches kept coming – it was like a horror movie. We soon burned through the Oreo cookies graham crackers, and we quickly cleaned out our meager supply of pennies and nickels. (I kept the larger denominations, teaching salaries being what they were.)
We decided to go to the potatoes – we had just purchased ten-pounds. We dumped them into a brown grocery bag and then, with each knock on the door, would palm a potato and slip it into the eagerly opened trick or treat bag. As far as we could tell, the clowns and ballerinas were pleased by the weight, though some of them looked, through their masks, a bit puzzled.
As it turned out, ten pounds of potatoes is not really all that much! We were stumped – briefly.
When the next group of kids appeared at our door, we asked each one to hold out his or her hand – into which we placed a fresh new ice cube. The puzzlement now was unmistakable. On the night when the only options were trick or treat, this was clearly a trick. And we could always make more!
The ice cubes were clearly a success, as the kids stopped coming to our door. We peeked out the window and saw concerned parents steering newcomers away from our sidewalk.
In retrospect, I’m glad this took place before the invention of cell phones, as no doubt we would have opened our front door to figures wearing the scary costumes of police officers.