Halloween in Bonham, Texas, circa 1960. I remember well the trick or treating. Or rather, I remember the treats, particularly the homemade ones that were delicious. No fear of razor blades or glass embedded in the goodies. No indeed. The truth is the homemade treats were the ones I liked best.
Take caramel apples, for example. I had a neighbor who actually melted caramel on the top of the stove and dipped in apples that she had handpicked. The mixture of the sweet, crisp apple with the buttery smooth taste of the caramel makes my mouth water even today. My neighbor made dozens of trays of these delectable treats, the gooey apples laid out on wax paper. Ah, I couldn’t wait to get to her house on Halloween.
Or our across the street neighbor, Palmer Youree, who made the most delicious homemade popcorn balls. They were the perfect combination of salty, sticky, buttery, and crunchy. I literally ran over to Palmer’s every year to get one of these goodies, and waited in line impatiently behind all the other neighborhood kids there for the same reason.
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy that paper grocery bag full of Tootsie Rolls, Snicker’s bars, or Three Musketeers. They were all good, but not unique. A stop at one of the older ladies’ houses in town brought the best of Halloween. Careful preparation coupled with caring. Ah, and the results were well worth the wait.
Today, we steer our kids away from houses where the residents have made homemade food and toward the standardized packaged candies that are harder to poison. I think by doing so we have allowed our fears to control us. Of course, caution needs to be exercised, but not to the point of killing off the best that is within us: our generosity of spirit.
I have no salient memory of all the “normal” candies; I have striking memories of those caramel apples and popcorn balls. What a gift those were. Now, if I could just figure out how to make those goodies using honey or maple syrup rather than refined sugar, I expect I could make a fortune.
Of at least make these for all the children (grown or not) in my life so they can taste the difference.