Jerry Nelson: A pandemic Halloween

Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum

Tis the season when it’s common to see zombies and goblins roaming the streets, doing their best to throw a scare into the populace.

But enough about the election. Halloween is also just around the corner, an evening when children celebrate an upcoming religious holiday by coercing strangers into giving them candy.

During our ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, health officials are advising that we avoid close interaction with others. And, if we must get close to any of our fellow humans, it’s highly recommended that we wear masks. It might be difficult to explain to kids the difference between a face mask and a Halloween mask.

Some people, in an effort to accommodate social distancing advisories, have set up lengthy candy chutes. The idea is for trick-or-treaters to maintain a healthy distance from homeowners while the youngsters collect their sugary loot. This could create problems if the homeowner is hard of hearing.

Old guy: “What did you say? ‘Sneaky Pete?’”

Kids: “No! We said ‘trick or treat!’”

Old guy: “You have stinky meat?”


Old guy: “Why didn’t you say so in the first place! Wait there a minute and I’ll get you some kerosene! It’s the best thing for curing athlete’s feet!”

I have faith that we Americans will come up with additional novel solutions for social distancing regarding trick-or-treaters. For example, the words “candy cannon” spring to mind.

If a person wants to be totally safe, he or she should avoid all possible contact with nocturnal candy collectors. One way to accomplish this might be with a trick-or-treat app.

Ensconced in the comfort and safety of their homes, kids could click on a map of houses in their neighborhood. Homeowners would receive a virtual trick-or-treat notification along with a photo of the little ghouls and boys. The homeowner could then click a button that would result in the delivery of candy to the kiddos.

If the homeowner liked the requester’s getup, the child would receive such outstanding sugary treats as chocolate bars or gummy bears or perhaps even chocolate-coated gummy bears. If the homeowner felt that the requester’s costume was lame, candy corn would be sent, although this could result in the homeowner’s abode being virtually TP’ed.

It’s been a difficult year for almost everything. Having a difficult Halloween simply seems to be par for the course.

For instance, this spring our garden was so wet that we were torn between trying to drain it or simply calling it our new swimming pool. Not one to give up easily, I hastily plowed up a small emergency garden plot. It was extremely late in the season, so we purchased plants from a greenhouse instead of starting everything from seed. Doing this made me feel like somewhat of a wimp, but as I said, it’s been that kind of year.

The emergency garden wasn’t much larger than a postcard, which greatly reduced the area available for my beloved cucurbits. There was only room for a few pumpkins and some squash. The fact that I wasn’t able to find any space for raising gourds drove me out of my gourd.

As a result, the Pumpkin Fairy was unable to make his appointed rounds this fall.

Each October, the Pumpkin Fairy would stealthily visit the homes of friends and relatives of ours and sneakily deposit prodigious pumpkins and gaudy gourds on their doorsteps. Nobody knows who the Pumpkin Fairy might be, except for those who have caught him in the act of leaving pumpkins and gourds. Other than that, the Pumpkin Fairy’s true identity is a secret that’s more closely guarded than the nuclear missile launch codes.

That isn’t much of an inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. As a kid, I grew up with such a level of privation that – hold onto your hat – we had to make our own Halloween costumes!

For my seven siblings and me, creating our Halloween costumes began with raiding a musty closet for old clothes that our parents no longer wore, yet couldn’t bear to throw out. Many were the Halloweens when we boys would go trick-or-treating as a hobo or a clown but actually looked like dairy farm boys wearing oversized bib overalls.

Our sisters fared much better. Through the creative deployment of colorful scarves and multiple layers of technicolor makeup, they didn’t look at all like dairy farm girls wearing their mother’s old clothes.

It’s been ages since trick-or-treaters have visited our farmhouse. But I’m prepared. I’ve acquired a supply of marshmallows and have memorized the launch codes for my candy cannon.

Jerry Nelson