Tuesday, November 2, 2021


When I was a kid, Halloween meant what I suppose it did to most kids. Dressing up as something clever and fun, carving jack-o-lanterns, working the neighborhood for treats... Okay, and maybe pulling off a couple of pranks. 

I collected the usual assortment of goodies. My favorites were the much-coveted full-size Snickers bars or Almond Joys a couple of families handed out. I think I also got an ice cream bar once. The treats I always tried to trade away: licorice, Raisinets, taffy, and the iconic-for-all-the-wrong-reasons candy corn.

But of all the houses I solicited, however rewarding candy-wise, one stood out. Miss Joy’s house. Lillian Joy was an engaging senior citizen with a twinkle in her eye. I knew her because she was active in my family’s church. She was one of those very few really old people I didn’t find kind of icky. 

        Just the stuff of wonder a kid remembers
        65 years later.

It wasn’t that her decorations were all that spooky, and I don’t think she handed out anything that memorable. What Miss Joy did hand out was an experience.

Each Halloween, with the help of a couple of friends, she invited each group of kids, a few at a time, into her grand old Victorian home—to the dining room I think it was—where the magic began.

To earn one’s treat, each child had to sit down at the table and execute a couple of challenging little hand/mind games. The one I remember best is struggling to draw a circle on a sheet of paper while looking only at a mirror reflection of the effort. (It’s really hard!)

It didn’t really matter if you were successful, just that you gave it a go. Then Miss Joy would invite you over to the sideboard, where there sat a fancy silver double chafing dish. 

She’d show you the pans were empty, then put the cover back and perform an elaborate little incantation. When she opened it again, there was your treat, a couple pieces of candy.

Seriously, the thing was just empty 30 seconds ago! Just the stuff of wonder a kid remembers 65 years later.

What magical Halloween experiences do you remember fondly?


Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting One Man's Wonder! I'd love to hear your comments on this post or my site in general.
And please stay in touch by clicking on "Subscribe" below.