Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Recollections Of An Old Gizer


In front of our house, 10/31/2009

Last night was Halloween. In the neighborhood where we live, this is a big event. We had between 2,000 and 3,000 children pass by our house last night, all looking for free goodies.

That isn’t a misprint, we really do have that many. Last night, instead of handing out candy, we took a break, darkened the house and laid low this year. We needed the break, and buying candy for 2,000+ children usually runs us around $150.

The reason for the mass Trick or Treater invasion is varied. Our neighborhood has at most 150 Trick or Treat age children in it. So where do the other 1,850+ children come from? They are driven or trucked in from outlaying areas.

Back in my days of youth, this used to be a neighborhood thing, where we got to hang out with our friends after dark and get treats and play under the street lights. Things have changed a bit in the past 45 years and now it is more institutionalized.

We live in an old, restored neighborhood in downtown Phoenix. A place with curved streets, old growth vegetation, tall palm trees and every house looks different because they were all built in the 1930s before tract housing became the norm.

So lesser advantaged children from outlaying areas are trucked in by their families to Trick or Treat in a ‘safe’, ‘affluent’ neighborhood where they give out lots of candy. This is tag-team Halloween, where entire families of six or seven (including a toddler in a stroller) go to each house, each family member asks for candy, and then they dump their booty into the pickup truck that is following them, driven by their father or grandfather. They repeat the cycle for each block. After 10 blocks or so, they head home.

As I rode my Segway to work this morning, through the now deserted streets, there were thousands of candy wrappers, Circle-K cups, bottles of water and beer cans strewn everywhere.

I miss my youth, when it was just about the fun and the treats. Now it is more like collecting free food for the family until Thanksgiving rolls around.

Next up is what we used to call Christmas, but is now referred to, in the politically correct terminology, as “The Holiday Season”. It used to be about going to church and learning stories of faith and redemption. Now it is about propping up the economy and buying gifts for people through mass marketing.

Like I said, I miss my youth.