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November 11, 2015

Trick or Treat

Tom McLaughlin

Malta, Montana USA –Halloween on the Prairie. My son Dzul, aged 4, dressed up like a cow, very appropriate for this area, while his cousin, 2, donned a kitty cat outfit. They were joined by about 150 friends who came from the ranches around the countryside into town for the festivities.


The first night was a parade. I expected a marching band from the high school, floats prepared by the businesses and several hundred people. My expectations fell far short.


There was police car, siren blasting, the fire department had the roads blocked off, but there were only about 25 people scattered along the roadside. The parade consisted of about six decorated pickup trucks with people aboard throwing candy at the bystanders.


Suriani, my wife, and Dzul had a hard time believing what was happening. The first truck went by, dispersed the candy at their feet and they just stared. I went up to them saying they had to pick it up and put it into the bag. The second vehicle went by and they did collect a few pieces. By the time the third, fourth and fifth trucks passed, they became maniacal, seizing every piece that was tossed within about 20 feet of their location. I went out and told them to leave some goodies for the others.


The next afternoon was another parade. Here, small children, aged new born to about six, marched down the street dressed in costumes. The weather was not cooperating, with a stiff wind blowing and temperatures in the mid-40s. Most had a winter coat over their costume. The group was so cute with the parents trudging along with them. Some adults looked like, and probably did, just get off a tractor. They then could "trick or treat" the businesses. It was a good way to make sure the youngsters were fast asleep when the real Halloween night came.


The last night of the three day festivities was Halloween night in which the older kids got their turns. We drove over and had dinner with friends at the only subdivision within hundreds of miles. They had elk burgers and chicken on the grill. Everybody enjoyed their elk burgers immensely saying it was the best elk they had ever had. I took a small bite but my stomach was not with the jocularity so I ate three pieces of chicken. I just don't like hunting, but more on that later.


The kids came to the door from the outlying ranches. We learned the neighbours were giving out jello shots up the road. Not being a drinking man, I asked what it was. Apparently, they take hard liquor and mix it with jello, let it harden and slurp down the mixture. We had shots of schnapps and any whiskey any parent would want. Some came with their brood and stayed for about an hour.


I sent Suriani and my daughter out trick or treating with the kids. It was Suriani's first time out and she enjoyed gathering the candy. They came back tired and with looks of wonder on how and why these white people would give out candy. In fact, she packed a suitcase load for our return trip to Kuching.


My daughter had promised some of the ranches that we would visit. We drove the Yukon down, up and over gravel paths to the houses. We trick or treated at three, but the access to the ranches were just too far from the main gravel road. We returned home.


Halloween was like it was, and should be, from the 1950s. Good honest hardworking people out for three nights with their families. A return to an era of innocence and love from many decades ago.


...Life is good. . . . .


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