Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat in 1975

Each year on Halloween my Dad took his kids out to select friends and relatives prior to us terrorizing the neighborhood and hitting up any house with the porch light still burning. When back home, we set up a trading post in the family room. The four of us (Jim would not be born for another year) piled up all our candy, divided it in categories (think gum, chocolate, sweet tarts, suckers, and on), and exchanged our haul in a “what will you give me for this” manner. Everyone knew how I loved bubble gum. I lost a lot of chocolate for that indulgence. We did this every year--a tradition we built for ourselves.
Halloween evening 1975. We started at about 5:30, skipping dinner out of excitement and anticipation of our annual sugar overdose. Dad began the rounds, stopping at the five or six obligatory homes. The last one, due to proximity from my grandmother’s house, was Miss Julie’s. Her old mansion set back far, far from the road with steep steps and a spectacular leaded glass front door didn’t feel haunted but it always felt erie on a dark Halloween evening.
Miss Julie opened the door and as usual invited us in to pick up treat bags on the parlor table. There they sat: four fish bowls with little guppies swimming in circles. Wow, I thought: much better than the expected carmel apples! And shrewd she was--each bowl had three guppies to increase the likelihood that there would be a male and a female in each fish bowl.
The night’s trick or treating that followed lacked the usual allure this year even though it was a Friday night. The guppies had captivated our imaginations and the candy was, well, just candy this year. By the time we arrived back home, Hartley already had baby guppies. The next morning, we all had babies and by school on Monday, we had more than we could count. Show-and-Tell hour could not start soon enough--no one I knew ever received guppies for Halloween.
Unfortunately our excitement dimmed by the day and a sad couple of weeks ensued. Our twenty-pound alley cat Tiger had no use for the new pets. Over a period of a week or two, the fat cat knocked the guppy bowl off of each perch, leaving a soaked carpet and dead guppies. Even Tiger had no desire to eat them. I suppose this was his version of catch and release fishing. My parents appeased the trauma of the murdered guppies by adopting  a single goldfish He swam in an oversized brandy sniffer set on the fireplace mantel, one of the only places Tiger could not roam.
Trick or Treat? I think Miss Julie had Treat or Trick on her mind in 1975, with the later being her prerogative.
Baby Guppies

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