“Even if you’ve had fun smashing your pumpkin, I’ll gladly take them off your hands!” someone posted in Dubois’ online classifieds today. “My goats and chickens will happily make use of them!”
That’s quite a change from the Halloweens we celebrated all those years in Brooklyn, where ours was one of the safe go-to neighborhoods for trick-or-treating!. From late afternoon to the gloaming, the street was jammed with small and outrageously tall beggars.
I never gave treats to a teenager who turned up without a costume, and I always dreaded walking the dog that evening, when I had to steer him away from countless dropped candies. We would see crumbling pumpkins in the trash for weeks afterwards.
What happens in one of the most remote small towns in the lower 48? Children do trick-or-treat in Dubois, someone told me. If you live on one of the paved streets with lighting, you know you have to buy candy for that evening.
But the place to be is the Halloween celebration in the town park, where adult volunteers cobble together scary and not-so-scary displays for the young, of course featuring candy.
I thought the Kiwanis event was the most fun, at least for children. They were meant to hurl a beanbag via slingshot at the stack of cans, but quickly the kids decided the game was to aim at one of the brightly dressed “Angry Birds” sitting behind the cans on the truckbed.
My friends Judy, Karen, and Michelle were hopping up and down in their winter gear and holding their elbows close as they helped with the event. (It turns pretty cold when the sun drops off this time of year.) Karen said she still felt cold the next day.
Judy told me later that some of the anonymous “Angry Birds” had pretty big bruises as their reward for this service to the community.
I hear the haunted tent from the Opp Shop won the prize for best display. But whoever decided to set up a firepit for s’mores deserved a special prize.
Another curiosity reminded me about Halloween long before the day. I began seeing bright orange bags beside the highway. Surely they were filled with trash, not candy. But they seemed to set the mood.
It was puzzling: The sign clearly says that stretch of Adopt-A-Highway is unclaimed. So who was that guy spearing the litter and dragging the trash can, and what was his affiliation?
I stopped to inquire. CM relocated to Dubois a few months ago. He moved from New York state to Jackson decades ago, right after high school, intent on living in the real West. Then Jackson began to feel like a big city. Lately, he promised himself that after retirement he would move out here.
He reminisced a bit about what Jackson used to be like, back in the day. Now that he’s finally retired and built a home here, CM told me, he feels he ought to help out. So he’s chosen this as his unpaid and unsung service to the community: picking up the trash.
Right around Halloween, curiously, he switched from orange bags to plain black. Maybe they ran out of orange.
© Lois Wingerson, 2016
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