Ghosts, goblins and little witches.
Black cats with glittery red eyes. Huge, almost round orange pumpkins, poked, carved and prodded by creative hands into smiling caricatures of good or evil.
Halloween. Back by tradition. Here by popular demand.
When I was a child and Moby Dick was a minnow and the world seemed slower and less packed with stuff, Halloween was nothing more than a mask and a pillow case full of candy and, on occasion, a pushed over outhouse or soaped windows.
It was simple.
Not so much now.
Now wearing a mask and dragging a pillowcase from door to door would be too simple, too easy and simply not acceptable.
I peer down the shrouded path of the past, impatiently pushing aside all the cobwebs and spiderwebs that block the way, remembering.
It was long ago and it was far away, and like the elusive spirits of the night, I seem only to be able to remember moments; fleeting, illusive, then gone.
I was about seven years old and Halloween was me and my brother and a warm black night where magic and evil lurked in the dark spaces between the streetlights.
This was our town, so it was OK to be out there, in the night.
We were, after all, the town kids. We were the ones who hung out at the skating rink, warming our frozen toes and fingers on the old wood stove inside the skating shack and watching the steam come off our mittens.
We were the kids who could be seen on countless sunny afternoons balancing ourselves on the steel track of the railroad that ran down the centre of town, carefully putting one foot in front of the other, walking on to forever.
It was a time when childhood and innocence played hand-in-hand easily and without the interference of worry.
“Trick or treat,” we chanted, holding out our pillow cases, as we went up one side of Main Street, which, by odd coincidence, was the only street, and down the other side.
The next morning there were no treats left and only a few tricks like pushed over outhouses and soaped windows reminded us that Halloween had even been here.
“Who did that?” we wondered, thinking admiringly that whoever it was certainly was brave to be so bad.
I come back to the present and light the little light inside my own plastic pumpkin that I set at my living room window to welcome all the little trick or treaters who will soon be ringing my door bell.
And, in so doing, I try to leave the past with all its ghosts and flickering memories behind.
But, still the memories linger.
It was good, in those days, I think.
We had nothing to fear, but the night itself. Cyber bullying did not exist. Nor did texting.
Microwaves and computers were somewhere out there, waiting for a scene in a movie on the channel of “real life” to get invented.
We listened to radios and some of us were lucky enough to own a television.
We were innocent enough to think we were worldly but few of us had ever even been to a place where there was enough traffic to warrant traffic lights. We didn’t know much about the police except that they lived mostly in books, and were “good guys.”
And even though we knew soaping windows and pushing over outhouses were not really shining examples of goodness, some of us did it anyway.
It was, after all, Halloween!