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The Last Windrow: A Halloween party

With Halloween on our doorstep, I thought of this column I wrote in 1989. It is a favorite memory of mine on this week when pumpkins smile at us after dark and the wind moans through the bare tree branches. 

“Anna’s Halloween Party”

None of us kids slept well that night. That night was a Halloween eve many years ago on our small Iowa farm. Too much chocolate, eaten too fast and too late. Not one of us complained, though. When you’re a kid, you have to be careful not to give grown-ups the wrong message about how well you can handle a stomach full of Tootsie Rolls.

Things have changed a bit since those Halloween eves that I knew. I don’t ever remember my folks checking the candy and apples for razor blades or pins. We knew who our neighbors were and had never heard of someone trying to harm anyone on Halloween. Just an occasional outhouse tipped over and perhaps a grain wagon placed on top of a hay stack were about the only mischief done. 

My mother ferried us around the neighborhood after the cows were milked and we were sure not to bother anyone after 8 p.m. People in the country used to go to bed about that time. We hit the normal spots, the gas station, the country grocery store and the nearby relatives were all on our targeted list. 

A special memory comes to mind of the year my dad suggested that we visit an old widow’s home just a mile down the road from our farm. We kids didn’t really know her except seeing her in church on Sundays. She looked kind of scary. My two sisters and brother and I weren’t overjoyed with my Dad’s suggestion, but he had the car keys and so, to her home we went, dressed in our masks and sheets. 

Anna was the lady’s name and she had lost her husband some years before. She lived here with her mentally challenged son. It was dark and the south wind was moaning through the leafless trees as we approached her white house. My dad was following close behind for security. Lace curtains adorned the windows and a little porch light was lit near the front door. I was the oldest and hence, was nominated to knock on the door. We all backed up a step when the door creaked open and a gray-haired head poked out at us. 

The face under the tousled gray hair was adorned by two twinkling blue eyes and her voice was tender, saying, “Come in children, come in!” Inside, on the lace-covered table sat a polished silver bowl full of polished apples and two bowls full of candy of every sort. We were all given an ample supply. None of us said much, but Anna asked all our names and assured us that she was very scared of our homemade costumes. That made us feel much better!

Dad visited with Anna for a time and I heard him ask the old widow if there had been any other kids there that night. She replied there had not been any but us. She thanked us for coming and asked us to come again next year. We assured her we would. There was a happy look on her face as we thanked ourselves out her porch door. I know now why my dad took us to Anna’s home. 

Halloween isn’t just for little kids.

See you next time. Okay?