Each fall, my husband and I look forward to the one night when an onslaught of little beggars come knocking at our door. Seeing our lit porch light, the children know that we wait to add to their fall stash of candy. Fortunately for us, we live on a street quite popular with parents on Oct. 31.
Unfortunately, this year the best time for leaving to visit the grandchildren in St. Louis came on Halloween. Wednesday, we shared our goodies at the church Trunk or Treat Party and packed our bags. The next night my daughter and her three young children joined us for the journey to see their cousins.
The 7-year-old knew our early departure threatened his fall harvest in candy. But, my daughter packed the children’s costumes and promised “we will look for places to go trick or treating on the way to your cousins’ house.”
That’s what she said, but the hours and miles flowed by with just roads and fields and empty shopping districts. Nothing looked ready for the little beggars. We did not spot any kids dressed in costumes. Every community had empty streets, closed doors and darkened porch lights.
The sun sank in the sky as we approached Pocahontas. From a previous visit, my husband and I knew the community was more than just a blink in the road. We entered the outskirts, looking for flashlights and candy bags.
But first nature behooved us to find a gas station for a bathroom break.
As I entered the gas station with a grandchild in hand, the clerk looked up and asked, “Are they trick or treating?” She reached for a stash of candy.
“Oh, they would love to trick or treat,” I said. “We are driving from Little Rock to St. Louis, and the oldest knows he is missing trick or treat night. We were hoping to find a street like the one where we live that is a trick or treat district — where lots of houses have candy ready for the kids.”
She knew exactly what we wanted and where we should go. I told her, “Wait and tell my husband or my daughter. They are the drivers.”
The children pulled on their costumes, grabbed their candy bags and eagerly approached the friendly clerk with open bags.
Instructions in hand, seat belts fastened, we went searching for “The Street.”
Before we saw it, I caught a glimpse of a white hearse outside a realty office and what looked like kids in costume.
“I think they are accepting trick or treaters,” I said.
The van screeched to a halt, made a U-turn and we pulled up close to the door where a woman dressed in clothes from the 50s awaited us with a smile.
Corralling her trio, my daughter lined them up at the side of the white hearse for a picture. Inside, we found hot dogs, chips, lemonade and a big bowl of candy. The kids checked out the tables with decorated pumpkins and then held out their bags to say “trick or treat.”
As they left, the lady asked, “Did they get their toy?”
No, but we soon corrected that.
We drove on, peering down the darkened streets until kids in costumes validated we had found “The Street.” My husband stayed in the car, following us as our pirate, old fashion lady and Super Woman ventured to one lit porch after another.
Some folks sat on the porch holding a bowl of candy. Some waited with a treat and a trick that made us laugh. Others stayed inside until the trio rang the door bell or gently tapped on the door. The candy distributors heard and came. Their piles of candy grew. The lights faded.
We debated going further.
“One more house, please, Mom.”
“One more and that’s it,” she agreed, heading to an isolated porch light.
We climbed back into the van, but that was not the end of their fall harvest in candy.
At the next bathroom break, the clerk wearing a witch’s hat behind the counter asked if they wanted candy. Well, of course, they did. They accepted the candy with both hands to carry back to their bags in the car.
They settled in to watch a movie in the car — until the bathroom called again and we met another cheerful clerk eager to give candy to children he had never met. With mom’s permission, the kids accepted their last piece of candy from a total stranger, ending their yearly collection.
Each time they said, “Thank you.”
As I do now: Thank you to all the folks who buy the candy and cheerfully distribute it to children they do not know and will not see again for another year. You help make the memories.