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Down the Road

Those fun, spooky times
By Milt Gross
Oct 28, 2012 - 12:12:10 AM

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Please don't ask me to take off my false face. I can't. I really can't. It's the one the doctor found on my neck when I was born.

Nowadays, when I look in the mirror, I wish I could take it off. Nope, still won't come off.

So I'm stuck with it -- and with a lot of Halloween memories tucked away in the skull that is above that false -- real -- face.

I remember those childhood Halloweens. In Pennsylvania, we had "mischief night," which was the night before Halloween. We didn't leave the house then, and kind of feared the evening away. What would those awful mischief nighters do?

Nothing. The evening turned into night and eventually into morning.

Halloween night we donned our costumes, of which I have no memories at all, and hit our suburban road to knock on doors and come home with a bag full of treats.

Great fun.

This was before horrible people made trick-or-treating a frightening, dangerous activity by criminal activity, such as doctoring treats to make them hazardous to innocent kids who ate them. This was before those horrible criminal people forced towns and schools to create Halloween parades and parties to keep kids off the dangerous streets Halloween night.

This was when Halloween was scary, but safe.

Somehow Halloween night was cool, not cold, and not rainy -- at least not in the memories hidden in that skull above the false -- real -- face.

Moving on, I don't recall our Halloween parenting treks with our four kids. We must have taken them. After all, you can't not take four kids out Halloweening for all the Halloweens it takes to raise four kids.

I do remember a few spooky events, such as the woman we knew who was driving north on Route 26 between Gray and South Paris and said she saw a flying saucer following her car. That would be spooky.

An eighth grader at Mount View told me he had seen a flying saucer.

Really frightening. I never saw any. We never even had arguments at home that led to saucers flying around our house.

My father told me the pilot of an airliner on which he and my mother went to Hawaii told him he had seen flying saucers. The pilot said he never reported them, because, first of all it was never on Halloween that he saw them, and secondly he was afraid that if he reported them, he would be grounded as a nut case.

What's so nutty about seeing flying saucers? I just know I haven't seen any.

And I don't want to, even on Halloween.

There was the Halloween party my wife and I held for the students at East Grand Elementary School. That was the night we got locked out of our house, and we sent an eighth grader onto a porch roof to open a window, come down, and let us in. He did, and the party commenced.

We saw no flying saucers.

It was a busy party, and then it was over. The youngsters, our town ghosts and goblins all went home.

But a German Shepard dog sat on our front porch.

We didn't have a German Shepard dog.

We did have an eighth-grader in my class, who that day had said he would burn our house down on Halloween night. Didn't surprise me. You can expect almost anything from an eighth-grader.

Except a German Shepard sitting on your front porch -- all night.

Was it the ghost dog of Halloween? Don't know. The house didn't get burned down.

Did the ghost dog scare away the eighth-grader? Who knows. I could never scare eighth graders.

Well, there was the kid who told me defiantly that he didn't want to come to school any more. My comment may have scared him.

A bit.

"Then stay home," I replied.

He kept coming to school. Just to scare me, I think.

At our house here in the woodsy part of our town, we seldom have kids come on Halloween to get candy. So Dolores buys candy that she knows we'll eat, because no one else will.

No ghosts have ever eaten any of it.

Last year only one or two came.

Maybe the others peeked in the front door window and saw me snoozing on the couch.

They may have seen that false -- real -- face.

And decided that Halloween was too scary for them to dare knock.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

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