Halloween night.

For my brothers, sisters, and I, Halloween was like having your parents’ permission to a pirate for a night. Nothing in our sheltered lives came close to the anticipation of Halloween night.

School let out at 3:00 and we were home and dressed in our costumes by 3:30, bags in hands, ready for action.

It couldn’t get dark fast enough. My brother Danny, who was afraid of the dark 364 days of the year, would walk back and forth across the living room, dressed as a sheepherder, and stick his head out the door every 15 minutes and to see if the sun was still up. When it was, he’d say, “That sun is an idiot” and slam door shut. He was like a Vampire in heat. 

When it finally got dark, you could be trampled to death by 14 feet of various shoe sizes making a frantic B line for the front door. Before we left the house, we were lined up and given the annual “Stay together out there” speech. We would nod our heads in wise agreement and furrow our brows to show that not only were we listening, but that we were moved, in fact deeply moved, by the words. Of course, once you were out the door, it was every man for himself.

One time we actually lost my sister, but that’s another story.

Halloween brought out the best, the worst and the dumbest in kids and adults alike. In 1964, this kid from another block went out wearing a JFK mask and a black suit. I was nine and even I knew it was in bad taste.

I had a friend named Jackie Cleary. He lived three houses down. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters so he went out with us. I meet him on the corner and he’s dressed like Jesus which was....you know....like, just uncomfortable. I mean you’ve got the Nuns on you five days a week, confession on Saturday and Mass on Sunday, you just don’t want Jesus out there with you on you’re night off.

Anyway, Jackie parents were from Ireland and they were really, really religious...I mean, they dressed their kid as Jesus on Halloween, worse than that, they gave him a one of those little white Unicef boxes to collect money for starving children in Africa.

I was as concerned about starving children in Africa as was any ten year old in Connecticut on Halloween night, but it just made you look so bad. I show up dressed as Zorro and candy. Jackie shows up as Jesus and collects money for starving people.