For an expatriate, perhaps more than for others, his true "fatherland" is his childhood. Halloween, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, tugs on many memory strings.
The best Halloween I ever remember was in the tiny west central Illinois town where my grandmother was born and raised. I spent a lot of summers there, but I was only there that once at the end of October... I can't remember why. I was about ten or eleven at the time.
My small town friends were much more fun for devilment than my little city friends. Country boys know how to rig things and build things and shoot and all kinds of things that city and especially suburban kids would never dream of. In Evanston it was all "treat" and no "trick", but in my granny's hometown, the practical jokes were pretty fierce. I remember two tricks played on unfriendly adults that night that will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
The first house had a big, heavy front door, which opened inwards -- that was the key to the trick -- we took a garbage can and filled it with water... it took about ten of us little fiends to carry it silently up on the victim's porch and lean it against the door, ring the doorbell and run like hell to hide in the bushes. What exquisite pleasure to hear the victim's footsteps approaching the door, to hear the door being unbolted, to hear the can fall, to hear the scream as all the water poured into his house, to hear all the swear words following us as we ran off.
The second trick was just as cute. It involved a piece of aluminum foil, a large soft and malodorous canine excrement and a can of lighter fluid. The contributing dog was a cross between a great dane and a mac truck, just to give you some idea of what I'm talking about here.
First the megaturd was placed on the aluminum foil and generously soaked with lighter fluid. Then, the most intrepid of us sneaked Indian fashion onto the victim's front porch and unscrewed the porch light, plunging the whole area into total darkness and then, with great caution, the foil package was placed in front of the door and the bell rung.
As the victim's steps were heard approaching the door, a match was lit and as the door was being opened, the match was thrown onto the lighter fluid soaked "treat".
The flame flared up about three or four feet in the air.
Naturally the victim seeing his porch ablaze promptly stomped out the fire and was left standing alone in the dark wondering what it was that smelled so bad and why the raucous laughter of horrid little boys was fading off into the night.
They the say the boy is father to the man. I hope it's true.
Happy Halloween! DS