Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 27, 2013

Ed Hungness: Popcorn balls, taffy apples

Local columnist

---- — The time has arrived to dig to the bottom of the closet in search of the Halloween decorations and the costume box.

It must be in there someplace. Could it be in the attic with the Christmas decorations? How could anyone be expected to remember where they put something a year ago? The good news is that you know they didn’t get thrown out or donated to Goodwill. Or did they?

Thursday we observe what can be one of the easiest holidays of the year.

It only gets complicated if we choose to make it so. If you are retired or an empty nester, there is always the option of pulling the shades, turning off the lights, pretending you are not home and ignoring the doorbell. Another possibility is pulling up stakes and going out for dinner at your favorite restaurant. Or if you still feel like a kid, get dressed up in an outrageous costume, grab a flashlight and a shopping bag and hit the streets. Just pretend you are a child again and attempt to look small. You can have as much or as little fun as you like.

We live in a rural area with few children close by.

Parents might hesitate to let little ones roam alone down side roads that are sparsely lit. Consequently our annual visits from ghosts and goblins are few and far between.

Over the years, we have learned to buy our favorite candy for Halloween. Post holiday, we stash the leftover candy in the freezer and enjoy the bounty throughout the long winter. Frozen Snickers and Milky Way candy bars taste mighty good with a bowl of popcorn while cozying up by the fireplace in January.

When I was in grade school, Halloween was less commercialized. Costumes were handcrafted utilizing the child’s imagination and a helping hand from mom or dad.

Every year, I tried to come up with something different. My favorite cast of disguises included a cowboy, a hobo, a soldier, a mummy and, of course, a monster. One year out of desperation and lack of advanced planning I dressed as plumber, smeared some grease on my face and carried a toilet plunger over my shoulder. My friends and I always looked forward to our neighbors’ reactions when we visited their houses.

It was customary for them to guess who we were impersonating. My three pals and I would agree in advance what characters we were going to portray so we would all be different.

When the big night arrived, we assembled at one of our homes just before sunset.

We trick-or-treated as a team and methodically covered every block in the neighborhood. Scurrying up one side of the street and down the other.

We were like commandos on a military assignment. Instead of paper bags we carried empty pillowcases which were more durable and held vast quantities of goodies.

Seasoned trick-or-treaters shared one goal — get a winter’s worth of candy in a single night.

After stuffing our bags and tired of climbing porch steps, we returned home. Sitting on the living room floor in a circle, we dumped our booty in front of us and began the sorting process.

Candy bars, the treat of treats, went in one pile, popcorn balls in another, apples off to the side. When the sorting was completed each of us was left with a “trading pile.” Then we would swap with each other trying to improve our individual hoards.

Halloween was great fun and our little group of ghosts and goblins terrorized the neighborhood every year through junior high school. The people in the neighborhood were nice to us and always had lots of treats, some homemade, some store-bought.

But by high school we came to the realization that we were “too old” to be trick-or-treating. We had discovered that girls and Halloween hayrides down a dark country road were more fun than a pillowcase filled with candy.

Ed Hungness and his wife became full-time residents of Fife Lake in 2005 after Ed’s retirement. He can be reached at or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Fife Lake, MI 49633