Halloween, October 1973

D. E. Larsen, DVM

The girls were excited about trick-or-treating. The only problem, it was cold in Colorado in late October. Brenda, a second grader, was well-versed in what was going on. Amy, at just short of 2 years old, had no idea what was happening, but she was excited anyway.

The chore was on my shoulders this year. Sandy was stuck in the house with Dee, who wasn’t three months.

“You make sure those girls are bundled up well,” Sandy said. “It is cold out there tonight.”

So the costumes were covered with heavy coats, and we made one last check before heading out the door.

We moved out of Aggie Village at the end of the summer this year. Last year, Brenda could just go down the row of apartments in the married student housing project and make out like a bandit in just a short time. We were in an apartment on Emigh Street, and the houses were spread out more.

“Let’s start by visiting Ester’s,” I said as I ushered the girls out the door.

Ester was a young college student who lived in an apartment across the street. Brenda, at least, knew Ester.

“She will like seeing our costumes,” Brenda said.

We carefully crossed the street and started up the steps to Ester’s door. Ester had decorated well. There were glowing pumpkins on each step, and cobweb stuff was strung everywhere.

Amy was done walking and stretched out her arms to be picked up. She didn’t really like ducking through the cobwebs. Brenda sort of had a nervous laugh.

The music started as soon as we approached the door. Haunted house, spooky music. Amy’s grip around my neck tightened. Brenda pressed against my leg, holding tight to my free hand.

The door swung open, and a large puff of smoke bellowed out of the open doorway. 

Then through a maze of cobwebs, with giant black plastic spiders hanging everywhere, Ester emerged. 

Ester was made up as a pretty authentic witch. She wore a tall, pointed black hat and black robe. Her fake nose was long and sharp and had a large wart on one side. She carried her candy in a plastic bucket shaped like a skull.

Brenda was a little shaken and moved slightly behind me. She knew the tales of witches and had most likely read or listened to the story of Hansel and Gretel, and this was just a little too authentic for her liking.

Amy, on the other hand, I am sure, had no previous exposure to witches and goblins unless it occurred during Sesame Street. She probably didn’t know what a witch was, but she was sure she was done with this trick-or-treat business and wanted out of this place.

Amy clung to my neck with both arms, buried her face in my neck, and kicked her feet. She sobbed. 

I held the bucket out for Ester, and she placed a large handful of goodies in the bucket.

“This is a good job,” I said. “But I think it is too real for this crew.”

“I’m sorry,” Ester said. “Your girls are so sweet. I didn’t mean to scare anyone.”

“They’ll be fine,” I said as we turned and started down the stairs.

I could feel Amy shudder as we made our way through the cobwebs. When we reached the sidewalk, Amy pointed to our apartment.

“Mama,” Amy said between sobs.

I guess fathers are not empathic enough, so we went home.

“That was a quick trip,” Sandy said.

Amy almost jumped out of my arms to Sandy’s. 

“Ester’s place was a little overdone,” I said. “She has a real haunted house over there.”

“There were cobwebs all over the place,” Brenda said. “And smoke and a witch. Amy was really scared.”

“Yes, Amy decided she was done with stuff,” I said. “We can warm up a bit, and then I will take Brenda down this side of the street.”

When Brenda and I headed out again, a wind had developed, adding to the discomfort of a chilly night. We visited a few houses, and Brenda decided she had enough candy.

“Maybe it will be better next year,” I said.

Photo by JJ Jordan on Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

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