Trick or treat

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This year has gone by all too quickly. Halloween came and went and my son Doug and I were reminiscing about this holiday and times past. We also remembered that it was this time last year when Doug developed sepsis, a blood infection that almost cost him his life.

The neighborhood children, dressed up in their Halloween finest, visited us. We have some great neighbors with really wonderful children. It’s fun to see how they grow each year, and how much they too enjoy Halloween, just like Doug and I did when we grew up; however, there’s a great difference today. Parents today need to inspect the candy children receive much more than in the past. Isn’t that’s a shame?

Kids today have a much better variety of characters to choose from and more and less expensive access to store-bought outfits than we did in the past. No more hobos and ghosts. Today’s kids are superheroes, beautifully dressed princesses or Disney characters. I remember my sons going out with some worn clothes and some face makeup with fake cigars. Times were tough then. Most parents’ hand made their children’s outfits.

Perhaps it’s my imagination, but the candy bars we got “back-in-the-day” seemed to be a lot larger. A five cent Three Musketeers bar pretty much filled up your hand. We also had Forever Yours bars, which were a dark chocolate Milky Way Bar. I grew up in the 20s and 30s, Doug in the 50s and 60s. We both remember penny candy stores like Eder’s candy store in Roslyn, Pa., where Doug grew up.

Eder’s store had delicious orange slices in powdered sugar, little tin dishes filled with candy that also came with a tiny spoon, and those delightful paper sheets covered with drops of candy. It seemed at times though, that we ate more pager than candy; but we still enjoyed shoving that paper into our mouths while trying to detach the candy.

Horrors though, Eder’s also sold packages of candy cigarettes. Can you imagine that?

Doug attended elementary school with Bill, the store’s owner son. and later on junior and senior high in Ambler, PA. Bill had a most peculiar way of walking. Or should I say, strutting around? In Jr. high, kids often imitated Bill’s “strut”. During one school assembly, the principal warned students that anyone imitating others would face serious consequences. Guess who, just after this assembly, was caught doing the “Eder strut.”

Yup, my son Doug.

Roy Duncan, the principal, knew Doug. When the new junior high opened on its first day, Doug and his best friend Rick changed the temporary teachers named signs above the doors. It was chaos for about two hours until kids and staff finally got things straightened out. Doug and Rick were laughing about this on the way home on the school bus and were overheard. The next day, they were called to Roy’s office.

They were given a choice of three days suspension or three whacks with an oak paddle. Both chose the paddle, since they knew they’d most likely get a similar treatment at home. I didn’t find out about this until much later. However, I do remember a time when Doug seemed reluctant to sit down. Can you imagine that being done in school today? To this day, even though 3,000 miles apart, they’re still best friends.

Rick has always been like a sixth son to me. His father, a very strict but good man, raised him. Rick was often at our home and to this day calls me “mom.” When Doug was ill last year, it was Rick who offered to come out to help; but I was able, even though it was tough, to take care of Doug myself with help later from Doug’s older brother Don.

Whenever things get tough, I remember Rick’s favorite saying, “There’s only one rule in life, enjoy it.” As I recall last year, and how Doug almost died, I will hold this thought. We’re going to have our turkey dinner at home and perhaps go out for Christmas dinner.

God willing, I’ll be around for the New Year. Being 91 years old is an adventure in itself, and I don’t want to presume anything.

This holiday season, please enjoy your families, and the blessing this country had bestowed upon us. We hope you will remember those in need, and thank those who protect us 24/7, our soldiers and our policemen. God Bless you all.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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