Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 10/27/2011 [Archive]

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

By Martha Randolph Carr

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It's simple, to the point and involves large quantities of chocolate. Decorations and planning don't start months in advance like Christmas and the cost of the candy won't break my budget.

If I go all out and get the regular-sized candy bars at Costco I can even be a real hero in my neighborhood. There's nothing like the news passed from feverishly running pint-sized Batman to a passing blue Power Ranger that there's full-sized Starburst two houses down on the left. I've seen kids pass up fancier houses as a rumor when viral and spread across the lawns.

Unfortunately, these days I live in a secure building, which means there's a big iron gate out front and kids don't even bother to come this far down the block. I can see all of the Jasmines and firemen just up the street, floating from door to door.

No worries. I took the show on the road last year and moved myself, a table and chair and big bowl of candy to that corner. My friend, Mimi came with me and brought witches' hats for us to wear.

The neighbors nearby eyeballed us a little but we look harmless and soon we had a chat going about the neighborhood and Chicago winters. That's always a conversation starter.

I have some dreams of getting a little dry ice this year and putting it in a plastic cauldron I own to draw an even bigger crowd but so far I've come up dry on finding that ice.

The excess candy goes to a nearby men's shelter and hopefully this year all of the Kit Kats will make it safely over there too.

The other big event in our household this time of year is my son, Louie's birthday. He was born prematurely the day before Halloween and spent his first weeks in the NICU where two tiny preemies were dressed in tiny mouse costumes provided by their grandmother.

My two favorite memories of taking Louie door to door are the first time when he figured out that a knock on the door resulted in candy and he started plowing through bushes to get to front doors faster. And when he was a motorcycle cop and an elderly gentleman pretended to be worried about having a police officer at his door.

Louie looked disgusted and let him know he was just a kid, it was only a costume.

We always visited my dad's house in those days too and I would wait on the street while Louie rang the door. Most of the time Dad didn't realize he was looking at his own grandson, which made Louie feel like he'd really put one over on Granddaddy. Dad had helped raise five kids by then and was famous for calling one of us by using everyone's name in order of birth till he got to the one he wanted, so he may have been a little easy to fool.

This year Louie had a Wear Anything But Clothes party, his clever way of saying 'costume', to celebrate his birthday and came dressed as the zombie version of Dr. Kevorkian. His Halloween costumes have become far more ironic than back in his bumblebee or Power Ranger days.

I will be at what is becoming my traditional spot on the corner slowly freezing, drinking a lot of hot tea, talking about the Chicago winters while getting to know my neighbors just a little better. Happy Halloween everyone! More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and tell me your best Halloween memories. Email Martha at

© 2011 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email

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