Don’t stomp any fires on Halloween night

By TIM BEELAND,

Folks my age and older — some younger too I suppose — are always talking about how different things are today than when we were kids. It’s pretty much a never ending cycle. Our parents said it about us, we said it about our kids and they’ll probably say the same thing about their kids.
Every older generation worked harder than the younger generation. Our parents are the ones that tell us about having to walk 10 miles in the freezing rain, or sleet or snow — like we have so much of that stuff around here anyway — just to get to where the school bus could pick them up. Uphill usually. Up a very steep and muddy hill!
We  told/tell our kids that they don’t know how good they have it. We mowed lawns and babysat to scrape together enough money to go to the picture show on Friday night. Our kids scraped/scrape it out of our billfolds.
All that said, sometimes I do get the idea that my generation might have been meaner and tricker and sneaker than the current one.
Especially around Halloween.
When we were young — early teens — a bunch of us neighborhood kids would gang up and hit the streets of Newton on foot mind you, up to what some, make that most, would call no good.
Often our antics were more of the trick variety than the treat variety and would most often include some eggs and some toilet paper and sometimes even some of those things one finds in little piles in a cow pasture.
Teachers were frequently the target of our aggression and it didn’t really matter whether they were the ones we liked or the ones we didn’t care for so much.
Back then, we had heard those urban (Newton was not really urban but...) legends about people setting fire to paper bags loaded with manure, for the lack of a printable true description, in front of a person’s home and then ringing the door bell. The object was to get the homeowner to stomp out the fire and get a foot full of, well, you know, manure. That one ceased to be an “urban legend” in Newton, Mississippi one Halloween back in the ‘70s.
Enough said.
There was also one time, I remember, that one of the friendly neighborhood policemen stopped our gang to see if we might be the ones throwing the eggs that night. We were not, and we assured him we were not and proceeded to direct him in the direction from which we were certain the eggs were coming, then dashed off in the opposite direction ourselves. All while a fresh sticky egg yoke oozed down the back window of the patrol car.
Technically that was not egging since the eggs were not being thrown, certainly not by us anyway, one just happened to find itself on top of that car.
I guess it was all in good, clean, dirty fun but I’m not sure about the statute of limitations on egging and yard rolling and that sort of  thing so perhaps it is best not to own up to anymore. Publicly anyway.
I think most of the kids I know today are above that kind of good, clean, dirty fun, so I reckon even though we were the mowers and the sitters, not the reach-in-the-pocketers, in the end we were indeed a bit bad to the bone. At least around the 31st day of October on any given year some 40-plus years ago.
I did see a few yards rolled around town last weekend and I firmly believe that my generation could give lessons. Maybe toilet paper costs too much these days for kids to really get the job done. Maybe if they got a job they could better afford to get the job done! Hmmm.
One thing I really do miss about Halloween is trick-o-treating. Not going trick-o-treating, but receiving trick-o-treaters at my home. We never have any kids come to our house out in the country, but when we still lived in the city full time it had pretty much dried up there too.
I used to have the best time dressing up and scaring the living daylights out of all the neighborhood kids. Then they all grew up and gave up candy collecting on Halloween night.
The problem is I didn’t. But all good things must come to an end at some point. Right? Maybe not. Just in case, I would not stomp any fires on Halloween night if I were you!

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