Memories of Halloween don’t fade as time passes

Halloween is tomorrow. Got your costume, bowl of candy and skeleton decorations? I asked some readers to share their scary memories of the holiday.

Carol McDaniel, 67, of Alderwood Manor, said her favorite Halloween story involves her adult children. Her kids, now in their 30s, decided to go out as the “Scooby Doo” cartoon gang, complete with Scooby (her son-in-law, Todd Parfitt), Fred (Bill McDaniel), Daphne (Cindy Parfitt), Thelma (Chandra McDaniel) and Shaggy (Mark McDaniel).

“You would not believe how believable they looked,” McDaniel said. “They decided it would be fun to go stroll through the mall, except my son, Fred, who felt like an idiot. My husband and I drove up to watch. It was hilarious and everybody knew who they were supposed to be.”

After the mall, the Scooby gang went to a party and won first prize.

Susan Stone and her brother Scott always went trick-or-treating, but never knew what they would find at home. Their mother loved to dress up in a different outfit every year.

“She would replace the porch lights and the inside foyer lights with black lights,” said Stone, 40, of Mukilteo. “When the doorbell would ring, Mom would slowly open both creaky doors, with scary music playing inside.”

One year, Stone recalls, she and her brother almost had their pillowcases filled with bounty. They were resting by their front door when the 13-year-old neighborhood bully came along, trick-or-treating by himself.

“Scott and I looked at each other, trying not to laugh, hoping Mom would really scare him. She was wearing white pants and a big white shirt. She had sprayed white hair spray in her hair and spiked it up as if she had put her finger in a light socket. Both of her eyes were black with the rest of her face really white. Black lights made her look like something you might find wandering around a graveyard.”

The bully was terrified when he saw her.

He backed up, fell backwards off the step and dropped his candy.

“Mom, not realizing how scared he was, ran out to help him up,” Stone said. “He started screaming and did the crab walk, scraping his bottom on the sidewalk all the way out to the street, then got up and ran home.”

Stone and her brother returned his candy, but the bully wouldn’t come to the door. They never had a problem with him again, she said.

It wasn’t exactly Halloween, but every year, Rick Reed, 60, of Snohomish, remembers an eerie sighting.

“I had recently graduated from WSU and I was living in a houseboat on Portage Bay just across from the UW,” Reed said. “One night I was reading a book in the living room when I noticed what appeared to be a young mother and her 7- or 8-year-old son at my kitchen sink washing and drying dishes together.”

As he put down his book and looked closer, the image became even clearer.

“There really were two out-of-body souls at my kitchen sink. They appeared as subtle material bodies. They were relating together lovingly and I simply watched in amazement. When the mom turned toward the table, she appeared to notice me, and then suddenly they were no longer visible.”

A few days later, he said, he learned that a single mom and her young son had previously rented the houseboat and both had drowned when the boy got in trouble in the bay and mom jumped in to try to save her son.

Memories of Halloween for Christine Awad Schmalz, who lives in Mukilteo, include the feeling of eating too much candy, feeling miserable, and continuing to eat everything until the candy was all gone.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother wrapped me in crepe paper so I could be a mummy for Halloween,” Schmalz said. “I grew up in the Deep South and Halloween evenings tend to be warm.”

She stiffly walked around her large neighborhood for the evening, in extreme discomfort because of the immobility of the crepe paper and her body heat.

“It was suffocating,” she said. “But I had to fill my pillowcase full of candy since this was the whole purpose of my mission. Along the way of course, I decided to sample my candy, starting with the chocolate pieces first.”

By the time she reached the home stretch, she was nauseous, itchy, hot and miserable.

“Then came the long arduous process of removing the crepe paper, which was a huge undertaking in itself. Once I was tucked into bed and the lights were out, I thought of how I would never eat so much candy again or go trick-or-treating, but then there always seemed to be amnesia that hit me every Oct. 31.”

Becky Dirlam, 44, of Sultan, said Halloween, her mother’s birthday, was always a kick.

“She would put on her clown costume, or some goofy get-up and look completely ridiculous,” Dirlam said. “We always went out on her birthday. I was sure as a teenager she did it just to embarrass me.”

They attended citizen band radio club functions in those days.

“I almost always won the pumpkin-carving contests, and more often than not, I took a ribbon for best costume, too,” Dirlam said. “I loved Halloween. I got to be wild and have tons of candy.”

As a mother of six, the youngest a senior at Sultan High School, Dirlam said she finds herself wanting to enjoy Halloween more, like she did as a kid. But she gets frightened easily now.

“I have to watch scary movies in the middle of the day, if I dare at all. I can’t stop at the haunted house put on by the Sultan Senior Parents because it is only open after dark, and my kids say it’s always spooky.”

Her children are too old for Mom to tag along trick-or-treating.

“Not that they even go anymore, and my grandkids live in another area, so what’s left for me to do?” she said. “Carve a pumpkin, light a candle, fill up the candy dish and emulate my mom. I’m sure I can find some goofy get-up, just to embarrass the teenagers.”

Growing up in an apartment building, it was simple for Liz Hawkins of Everett to go from floor to floor, knocking on doors of residents who pretty much knew one another.

“When I was 6, and my sister was 4, we were allowed to go door to door in the building chirping ‘Trick or Treat’ as each door opened,” Hawkins said. “One neighbor, upon opening the door, towered over us, made a horrific face, curled his hands into claws, and roared ‘Go away!’ He was monstrous. We ran home in tears, terrified.”

When the girls told their daddy what happened, he stalked out of the apartment.

“A short while later, he returned and took us each by the hand back to the scary place,” she said. “The neighbor apologized and invited us in where he was having an adult party. I remember cups of hot cocoa and cookies, popcorn balls and chocolates heaped in front of us and how the grown-ups fussed over us.”

She said she never knew what was said, she never asked, but it turned out to be a very good, and memorable, Halloween after all.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451,

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