Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.
And so today the memories of Halloweens past rushed from the back roads of my memory into the overcast skies of a crisp beautiful Autumn Day as Halloween 2017 comes lurking from the shadows with thoughts of Halloween High Jinks, Ghosts and Goblins, Dark Nights and life among my Band of Brothers. We were The Toto Volunteers.
I first told this story some seven or eight years ago. And today it screamed to be retold once again. Memories how they linger. I was once asked how long does it take to write a story. My standard answer is the bad ones days if not weeks. The good ones, just a few minutes. As I recall this story of Halloween in Downtown Toto took about 45 minutes start to finish.
The biggest holiday, hands down, in Downtown Toto when I was a kid was Halloween. Now you had the other important stuff like Easter, 4th of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day. But none of these holidays came close to Halloween.
It was the time of independence from family, the time to test your courage, to face your fears of the nighttime knowing things were out there and not knowing who what or where. A time to be both horrified and happy in the same heartbeat. A time to scare little sisters. A time to step into the shadow of the valley and fear evil. A time to march, to prowl the darkness in the company of the band of brothers, the Toto Volunteers.
The Halloween Bounty seemed unlimited, so much so that we, the Toto Volunteers, never made any attempt to control its access. We could have, we chose not to. Toto could have become the model Trick or Treat Community for the National Standard of Trick or Treat, had we choose to make it so. We could have, we chose not to.
The reason for such actions on the part of the Volunteers is as valid today as when the Council deliberated on that very issue. There was a fraction within the ranks who wanted to do to Halloween what we had been so successful in our summer campaign. Just the summer past, we had collected more pop bottles then most of the army thought existed in the world. We’d won the Pop Bottle Wars of Toto.
The issue of the Halloween Candy was brought to the War Council not by inexperienced people with no knowledge of war, but from people seasoned by fire on the front lines of the Pop Bottle Wars. People who were even as old as 11 and one even held the rank of sergeant.
Now in the Toto Volunteers we had a little different ranking system than the regular army. Ours was more simple. I got to be the General, there were two sergeants, and everybody else got to be a private. That way we didn’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who was in charge. Besides, we didn’t have different uniforms so it was a lot easier to just remember a few to salute, otherwise everybody would be saluting each other all day long for nothing.
The Halloween Options as they would become know to the Volunteers were quite simple, two different options. The first option being the Toto Volunteers go Trick or Treating the night before the real Halloween and then go again the next night, that way everybody gets twice as much stuff. The second option would be for the Volunteers to just charge everybody Trick or Treating in Toto, and not a member of the Volunteers, a nickel. It was just two weeks till Halloween and the council wanted to make a decision right there, but I told ‘em the decision was too important, it’d have to wait for a while. I had to think this one out.
One of the things I learned by being the General of the Toto Volunteers was when I didn’t know what to do, I could always ask my dad. “Cause he was a Preacher, and he’d never tell my something to do that was not in the Bible, ‘cause he read the bible a lot more than I did. I’d act like I was just a little kid asking a dumb question, not like the general seeking consultation on an issue of possible war. When I talked to my dad about such important matters we usually done our man to boy talks on the porch swing, even in late October man to boy talks worked better in the swing.
As we sat swinging I said “Did you ever go trick or treating?” My dad said “Yep” “Did you ever go trick or treating the day before Halloween?” My dad said “Nope” I said “why not?” My dad said “Did you ever have a birthday party a day before your birthday? Could you have the 4th of July Picnic the day before? What would happen to Christmas if you didn’t have the 25th of December, not the 24th but the 25th?” I was starting to see my dad’s point of view on this issue of trick or treating one day early as we swung together on the front porch in the crisp autumn air just nine days before Halloween.
I said “You think a person could make somebody pay to go trick or treating” My dad said “Not in Toto, cause everybody that tricks or treats in Toto don’t have any money to start with, and besides who would be dumb enough to even try to get somebody to pay to go trick or treating?” I didn’t say nothing. One of the good things about talking with my dad in that swing was he didn’t make me say anything if I didn’t want to, and right then I didn’t want to.
So there is was. You can’t go the night before ‘cause that’s dumb, and nobody’s got any money and if you even ask someone to pay that’s dumb too. My dad imparted a great deal of wisdom from the confines of that swing. He made my job of being the general a lot easier on more than one occasion.
Well, I had my answers now I only had to deal with the Toto Volunteers. I spent most of that night trying to figure out a way to get the War Council on my side. I knew what I had to do but wanted the them to tell me, not me tell them. Somewhere in the darkness, about the time today turned into tomorrow and became yesterday I finally figured a way to present my views to the Council. The next day I called an after school meeting of the War Council of the Toto Volunteers. We met on my front porch.
Now one of the downside products of victory on the battle field is the overwhelming desire to repeat the same feat over and over again. I was not about to let that happen to the Toto Volunteers. As soon as everybody was present I presented my plan. The plan was simple. I couldn’t choose which one I liked best so we would do ‘em both.
But for the trick or treat the night before Halloween we’d all have to have get our moms to sign a letter saying we could go out after dark just in case someone wanted to know why we were there at their house a night early for trick or treat, so we could tell ‘em our moms said we could come trick or treating early. Also everyone had to ask their mom if she thought it would be ok to charge people for trick or treating in Toto.
I had printed out a letter to give every member. Because I ran the mimeograph machine at California Township School I ran off copies of the letter. I had printed it on a stencil and it looked really professional. As the volunteers read the letter, you could still smell the mimeograph ink, it was the blue kind. I could tell by their looks that they were gonna have a hard time getting their mom to sign that letter. I know I sure wouldn’t ask my mom to sign that letter.
One kid said “my mom will kill me if she sees this letter, I’m not gonna take it home”. He brought his letter back and reached it to me saying “let’s just go regular trick or treating”. Some of the others thought we could still do both options. My faith was in the letter.
The next morning at the bus stop not a single volunteer who took the letter home wanted to talk about it. One guy said “I might not even want to go trick or treating this year, I don’t know if I do or not. I’ll just have to wait till Halloween an see”. The plan was working. Two days later the War Council of the Toto Volunteers made a decision to do regular trick or treating in Toto and to make sure nobody would ever do anything except regular trick or treating in Toto forever in the future.
We, the Toto Volunteers, took a solemn oath to forever protect the unbridled right to trick or treat in Toto Indiana on Halloween without interference from anybody forever and ever. That right to trick or treat in Toto has been protected to this day.
And then came the politicians, regulating trick or treat hours. I think it was a republican thing first, probably too damn tight to buy candy for little kids. Then the democrats jumped on the band wagon, probably with a bribe of some sort from the republicans. A pox on both their houses, to even think you can regulate Halloween.
I hear is some smart ass in Washington will propose to make Halloween a federal holiday and place on the last Monday in October, in order to bring it in line with the other fake Monday Federal Holidays. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone tries to move Halloween to the day after Easter. Easter Monday doesn’t have a good sound to it, but one less work day for the democrats.
Now towns announce the time to go trick or treating. Trick or treating at 3:00PM is like kissing your sister at high noon in a public park, it’s just not that much fun. The question that comes to mind is what you gonna do if some little monster tricks or treats before or after the set deadlines?
Now if you shoot ‘em all you get the guilty. The next thing you know it’s a Halloween Czar.
From the East Wing, And the Winner Is, Trick or Treating with the Toto Volunteers
I wish you well,