I grew up in the golden age of trick or treating. I freely acknowledge it. Yes, I know that makes me old. But hey, I got free candy!!! I mean, we could go up to neighbors' homes and get homemade cookies, caramel apples and cider, hiking around with our bags brimming with stuff tossed at us like spare change in the kettle of the various Christmas Santas a few months later!
It was admittedly a wonderful time in the world during the long-ago era when I was begging door to door. We had to know some tricks because there was always some clever old man who wanted to make us blush and squirm. My younger brother was probably the fastest at collecting. I swear he went out at sunset and ran the neighborhood in an hour, then would head across the highway to a different area. Ironically, he and my older brother would keep their candy darn near until Easter. I wasn't a fan of keeping candy much past Christmas. Seemed wrong, somehow.
We would plot out our costumes usually no more than a day or two ahead of time. Mom didn't spring for the plastic death traps so popular and only a few dollars at the store. She told us they were a waste of money and not every special. She made us be creative. She later admitted it was combination of cash flow and refusal to pay for crappy costumes just so we could look trendy. Thus we all became very creative in the costume department. The challenge was to be different yet still identifiable to the masses -- or at least the ones handing out loot.
I went out as Phyllis Diller when I was like eight or nine (No, I didn't have a clue who she was but I was authentic! Even with a cigarette holder and -- gasp! a real cigarette (the nuns didn't much appreciate the effort but it was fun), a gypsy, a little old lady, Mother Earth, a poodle-skirted 50s girl, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, a witch and other fun things like a MIB goth-looking gal and a Playboy Bunny. Yes, really. (No, I don't recall any pictures taken.)
Now I need to explain the candy rules in our house. Mom and Dad did first 'check.' Years later, I found out it meant they picked out the ones they liked best and told us they looked 'funny.' Uhuh, funny. Enough said. Then my siblings and I would sit on the floor and play trade. Trading involved finding out which loot the other ones got that we wanted and trying out our poker faces so we could wheel and deal. I should note for the record that all of us at some point in our lives went into sales, so we were pretty good. We would then crash and my folks would raid our candy if kids were still trick or treating after we'd fallen asleep.
The fall-filled nights in Southern California didn't require snow gear and rarely did it rain. I still smile recalling the adventures we had running wild in the neighborhood. And a few years ago, I baked my painted sugar cookies and put my address on back to hand out to the neighbors. Guess what? The following years I baked more and had folks asking for them. So sometimes neighborhoods can still keep the magic of childhood alive.