One of the people I follow on Twitter asked a question that sparked one of my Halloween memories. They wanted to know how old you had to be to stop Trick-or-Treating. I sent back some reply about 45 being the age because I haven’t reached that number, but then I started thinking about the year my grandfather went Trick-or-Treating.
We called him Daddy J, and he was a gruff kind of guy. He worked in construction all of his life; didn’t say much; and, when he talked, he let you know exactly what was on his mind. On the other hand, Daddy J liked to have fun. We went to tons of football games together. He was always beating my brother and I in a footrace. He also loved to play practical jokes.
He kept a rubber snake in his truck, and he took great pleasure in throwing it on some unsuspecting person. Sometimes, Daddy J would place it where someone would walk up on it. All the time, my grandfather would be hiding and watching. When they jumped, he would break out his trademark laugh – kind of a snicker. My nephew laughs the exact same way.
One day, the guys he worked with decided to get him back. Instead of hiding a rubber snake in his truck, they put a real one in there. They said he couldn’t get out of the truck fast enough.
I wrote all of that to write about one Halloween where we all decided to play a trick. I was hanging out at the house of my grandparents because they lived in a subdivision where a lot of people Trick-or-Treated. I can’t remember who all was there, but I remember my grandmother, Mama J, being in charge of passing out the candy. At some point, things slowed down, and only a few people were coming by. That’s when somebody – I can’t remember who – came up with an idea.
My grandparents hung out with their neighbors all the time. They were big friends. The plan was the my grandfather would go Trick-or-Treating at their house. We had to come up with a costume fast. We got an old sheet and cut out holes for his eyes. We also cut out one for his mouth. We put the sheet over him; stuck a cigar in his mouth; and draped the rubber snake around his neck. What? You thought we would leave the snake out of this?
Mama J wasn’t too sure about it, but Daddy J was ready to go. He walked to the neighbors with a candy bucket in his hand, and we followed in the shadows. He knocked on the door, and the lady answered. In a deep, gruff voice, he says, “Trick or Treat.”
She looks at him kind of funny.
“Trick or Treat.”
That’s all he would say. She tried to make conversation with him because she was getting suspicious.
“You seem a little old to be Trick-or-Treating. How old are you?”
“Trick or Treat.”
We were huddled around the corner of the house and trying not to laugh. Eventually, Daddy J couldn’t stand it anymore, and he started his snicker. Then, she knew.
“J.W., I should have known that was you! There’s that damn rubber snake!”
My grandfather took off the sheet, and we came out of hiding. Her husband came out to see what was going on and got a big laugh out of it. After a minute or two of yelling at us, she let us have the rest of her candy.