When I was kid, treat or treating was a well-oiled machine. I’d accept an invitation to join whichever friend lived in the tallest, wealthiest building. Their co-ops often had sign-up sheets which saved time by conveniently letting you know exactly which doorbells to ring. We’d start at the top floor and work our way down to the lobby where even the cheerful doorman would usually have Jolly Ranchers or Dum Dums to offer. It was quite the racket, and our candy buckets and UNICEF penny boxes were always reliably filled to the brim. Once blessed year at a friend’s 28-story high rise, we had to make a pit stop back at her apartment halfway through to dump out our overflowing buckets before we continued. It was sweet tooth heaven, and these epic windfalls helped ease the envy I felt toward suburban children who, according to television, strolled and occasionally marauded down tree-lined streets with the crunch of fallen leaves beneath their feet.
It wasn’t until early adulthood, long after my collection pumpkin had been retired, that I noticed other city kids made the trick or treat rounds at shops and restaurants and bodegas, a technique which had never occurred to me despite a lifetime of city dwelling. As I sat in my neighborhood pizza place this evening watching the costumed children file in and out, I began to wonder how kids in other parts went about this ritual. Was there a different method of trick or treating in the country? The boonies? The hood?
How did you beg for candy growing up?