Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Be Safe and Be Happy...

This essay is not a history of Halloween dating back to the Pagan/Celt’s era. Rather this is a review especially for kids (and parents) to have a safe time tonight as you chase goblins around the neighborhood. This is otherwise known as trick-or-treating. By following a few simple rules, your night of drifting through your cemetery (neighborhood) should be a much safer experience.

When trick-or-treating:

• Children always should have an adult to accompany them.

• If you are an older kid, never go treat or treating alone. Have two or three buddies with you, even if they do look like monsters.

• Never enter a stranger’s house even if the occupants do not look like monsters.

• Visit only houses with porch lights burning. Unlit houses are a no-no.

• Always walk. Do not run. Eventually you’ll get to where you want to go.

• Never eat candy until you get home and your parents can inspect the goodies. Besides, they will want their share before you dig in.

• Do not walk in the street. Use sidewalks. That’s why they are there.

• Be sure that your costume is flame retardant and never stand too close to a lit jack-o-lantern or for that matter, a lit anything.

• Always use common sense. Generally this is an uncommon trait, but you can do it.

• Oh, by the way, nice goblins and monsters always say, “thank you” for their treats. Even a few ghosts have been known to express their appreciation.

• Parents, some neighborhood organizations and churches provide safer alternatives to trick-or-treating by hosting indoor parties or parking lot trunk-or- treat events.

Kids, any pranks that you may pull on Halloween night should observe the following rules:

• Do not endanger yourself or others. Otherwise stated, do not harm anyone in any manner.

• Do not vandalize or damage property. This is naughty and could cost you a Merry Christmas.

One Halloween night, Jimmy Cassady and I were walking down a sidewalk bordering Highland Ave. in the South Park area of Beaumont. We had in hand a ball made up of paper cups and napkins leftover from Cokes recently purchased and consumed at a convenience store. On a whim, I threw the paper ball at a passing car, hitting it on the back window. The glass did not break but it did make a pretty loud “whomp” sound. Jimmy and I laughed thinking we had pulled off a really cute stunt. In a couple of minutes, that same car having made the block pulled up to the curb where we were walking. The driver identified himself as Detective “Somebody.” It seems that we had selected an off-duty police officer’s car to swat with that ball. He proceeded to chew us out including threats of taking us downtown to the Main Street jail. My knees were shaking all the way from my feet to my ears and my heart began beating in reverse. Anyway, Jimmy and I headed home forever grateful for our narrow escape from the hands of judicial processes.

The following Halloween, James Ward and I decided to hide my neighbor’s lawn furniture. The time was 10:00 p.m. The Tommy Heartfield family lived next door. Their house was all dark. James and I ventured to their front porch and lifted a white wrought iron table and took about two steps. A voice spoke from the darkness of the porch window, “Ok boys, put the table back where you found it.” We did and I was so embarrassed because I was certain Mr. Heartfield must have recognized me.

The rules listed herein were formulated from personal experience. And that is how I learned to be safe and to respect other peoples’ property.

Winston Hamby


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