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Walnuts, pennies, and Dogth Vader ...
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Let the candy grab begin. Kids will spend the night filling bags. Adults will spend the next week sneaking into those bags – and don’t for a second act like you won’t. 

The candy earned as a kid putting in the time trick-or-treating is awfully sweet, but not as sweet as the candy stolen out of those bags by parents – and the occasional sneaky uncle. 

I remember last year my 9-year-old nephew Nico caught me pilfering through his bounty. He wasn’t too angry, and even went so far as to offer me all of his Smarties. You remember Smarties? Those delicious button-sized discs of multi-colored sugar goodness. 

This immediately got my Spidey Senses tingling. Why would a 9-year-old be willing to give away all his Smarties? The Smartie isn’t a top-tier Halloween candy by any stretch, such as your Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or Snickers, but it’s by no means a box of raisins. Yuck. 

Something was afoot, and that is when I demanded to look inside his bag and had my whole world turned upside down.

Today’s Kids are getting way better candy … and not just marginally better. They are shoveling Xbox quality confections down their throats – and I come from the land of Pong. 

I looked through his bag. The Smarties were his bottom tier! Not a Dum-Dum! Not a Bit-o-Honey! Nothing but actual fun-sized candy bars of all varieties. I asked more questions, “Did you throw away all the mini raisin packs?” He looked at me like I was insane. “Nobody gives out raisins, Uncle Chris. That’s disgusting!” 

And then I realized something. 

He was right. 

Those of us that grew up in the 1970s know. From unwrapped hard candy to generic lemon flavored Tootsie Roll knock-offs, the candy of my Halloween youth stank. The bags of unsalted peanuts were awful to find in your bag. I recall being given Ziploc bags of mini marshmallows – the dehydrated type that went into cocoa!

The homemade stuff was even worse. Caramel apples and those marshmallow clowns stuffed inside a sugar cone were instant garbage can fodder. They used to warn us that we could find horrible things in our bags, like candy laced with razor blades and poison. I always thought it was much worse when I’d find a bag of walnuts and pennies. Let me repeat that for anybody reading this that is under 25 – walnuts and pennies! 

This was the 70s for us. It was as if the people weren’t so much participating in the tradition of giving out treats as they were with cleaning out the drawer near their house phone. The junk drawer – Halloweens of the 70s. I remember bags of rubber bands and marbles being given away. Who remembers those stupid plastic rings with a spider on them? Perfect, because there’s nothing better than being a sneaky little 7-year-old, doing a nighttime reconnaissance mission into his parents’ closet to retrieve some candy and ending up with a replica black widow on your hand. I’d end up stabbing it to death with one of the loose pencils old people would hand out.

Why would I ever need a pencil? It’s not like I’m ever going do any writing. And let’s not soon forget about the people that gave out toothbrushes. Thanks, but no thanks. I can get these on my next visit to Dr. Croft myself.


And what about the costumes? 

The costumes the kids have these days are movie set quality, a far leap from the polyurethane pull-over costumes with matching plastic mask of the 70s. The rubber band always ended up pulling out from one of the staples. Inward facing staples on a kid’s Halloween mask is the preferred securing mechanism these days, right? Wrong! We were walking safety hazards. Our costumes were flimsy plastic infernos waiting to be ignited as our grandma or aunt chained smoked Virginia Slims while “chaperoning” us house to house. Not to mention our limited variety. These days costume makers provide a cornucopia of up to date. I’m embarrassed to admit, I was a Storm Trooper for three years in a row. A Storm Trooper! The most useless ancillary character in cinematic history. A galactic security guard on Star Wars. It wasn’t like any kid has ever chosen to be a Storm Trooper. I was just younger than the other kids that day when getting costumes and heaven forbid our group of six have two Darth Vaders. That would throw our whole delicate intergalactic eco-system out of whack. My cousins and friends were either Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. My character technically didn’t even have a name! Those trips to the front door were fun. 

“Trick or treat!”

“How cute, a little Han … and Leia ... and a scary Darth Vader. Oh, how sad – a Storm Trooper.” 

(The look of disappointment from Mr. or Mrs. Candygiver said it all.) 

I’d even try to interject some humor. 

“I’m actually Bob Turlekson. I used to work on the Star Fleet, but after the big plutonium embargo imposed on the Federation, I had to pick up this Storm Trooper job. I got kids, ya know.”

But there is one currently disturbing Halloween trend that was non-existent in the 70’s...


The Dressing of the Pet 

Listen to me, and know this: If you are a woman and are dressing your pets in costumes for Halloween, we think you are an insane person and should be locked away. Sincerely, men. 

What are you doing?! The one familiar character trait most “animal dressers” share is being single. I wonder why?

It seems perfectly normal to have your cats dressed up as Jack and Rose from Titanic, as you tow them door to door in a wagon shaped like an ocean liner? My suggestion single ladies is to put down the pet – and put on the nearest Naughty Nurse or Sassy Stewardess costume because there is nothing men love more than the appearance of being sexy and employed. 

Christmas is approaching fast, and the only thing sadder than a dog dressed as the Cowardly Lion for Halloween is one dressed as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer being carried through the mall by a single woman on Christmas Eve.

Well I had more I wanted to write, but Bumgarner just threw the final out – and pop-up in foul territory – and the Giants won the World Series! As for me, well, typing on my laptop at The Pub and Lounge is no way to celebrate. Besides, two single women just sat down next to me, one carrying a Pug dressed as Darth Vader which in hindsight is the ONLY acceptable costume to put on an animal.

Happy Halloween and go Buffs!

After I’m done handing out hard taco shells and old PG&E bills to the kids tonight, I’ll be heading over to Guss Schmeidt Field to watch the MHS and Sierra showdown.


“It’s not Where ya do, It’s What ya do”