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It's a frightfully fun time of year Richard Pena | Sat, Oct 30 2010 12:00 PM


Here it is, practically the end of the month and we have yet to mention the month of October. I generally do that early in the month but for whatever reasons, have slipped up this year.

I like October. In past years we have noted how we see a change in the weather. We feel a chill in the air and we resurrect those woolen sweaters that have been occupying drawer space since last winter, air them out a bit, and tab them as important parts of our wardrobe for the weeks to come. We see the people on the streets or sidewalks amble around with a bit more life, a lively gait, so to speak, anything to get blood flowing a bit faster.

The year 2010, alas, has been much different. To be truthful the sweaters came out long ago. I think I was wearing one in August just to get the morning paper. It has been that type of a year. As we noted in an earlier column, we were cheated out of summer and we laid all the blame on the sun. But because we are of a forgiving nature we are going to excuse ol' sol and greet him with open arms when he returns in the spring. And we are going to accept the season as if it had just now started even if the sweaters have been out for some time.

Although we must acknowledge the colors that nature paints in the springtime with all the blooms and greenery she gives us, we also must take pride in the fall, particularly October. It not only is colorful but, whether we like it or not, it heralds the holiday seasons that the year brings to us. One need only look around the markets or empty lots to see the plethora of pumpkins that permeate the premises. The Pinery Tree Farm out on Sweetwater Road is a prime example. The entire acreage is resplendent in the characteristic orange of the pumpkin and the townfolk are there in numbers to buy them for home dŽcor and for the benefit of the younger members of their household who, of course, are anticipating with bated breath the first of the holidays of the season: Halloween.

As far as children are concerned, Halloween has been a day that surpassed many of the others as a favorite. It rates right up there with Christmas and birthdays and is, of course, one of the darlings of the retail business. The literature tells us that more costumes are purchased for Halloween than for any other. We thus will see witches, ghosts, goblins, pirates and princesses haunting our neighborhoods this coming Sunday, all in search of that coveted candy bar or similar treat and promising dire tricks if we do not come across.

I must confess that the mere mention of Halloween brings fond memories of my teaching days. Even in those years of so long ago, Halloween was a major undertaking. To begin with, it was a school-wide operation. It was a time when the school's PTA set up a portion of the auditorium or some other convenient spot for their annual Halloween party. This was one of the principal fundraiser for the PTA as well as a popular event for the school population. Booths offering everything from eats to toys were scattered about the area. The main attraction was a spook house that rivaled what one would see at Disneyland, and going through it was much cheaper. There were prizes for best costumes and this was something that was taken seriously. I remember dressing for this contest one year but don't recall winning even honorable mention.

Scores of children, most with their parents or other adults, will be around on Sunday evening. We, of course, must take special care if we are about the streets on that evening. Remember that on this one day the ghosts and goblins have the right of way. They will come to the door and intone that ubiquitous phrase, "Trick or Treat."

Now, in the event that there is no treat on hand, you are subject to a trick. The trick, back a few generations ago could have consisted of having the household's outhouse hauled down to the nearest ravine. But since there are few outhouses around nowadays I suppose we have little to worry us. But to be on the safe side, have a bag of Milky Ways handy. One never can tell.


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