Don’t trick-or-treat with paper bags

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When I was 9 years old and living in Beaufort, S.C., I spent Halloween trick-or-treating for my sister, Angie, and myself.
She was sick when that all-important night came. Being the always-concerned big brother that I have been since she was born (well, almost always concerned), I took it upon myself to carry two bags to receive the Halloween booty. Donna, my younger sister, did not accompany me on my rounds throughout the neighborhood (base housing Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort). If memory serves, she was 2 years old at the time. I recall her going up and down our block to a few houses to get her share of the Halloween harvest.
Imagine the reactions I got when I presented two bags into which candy and other treats were to be tossed.
“Why do you have two bags?” would come the question.
“I’ve got a sick sister at home, and I am collecting candy for her,” I repeated numerous times.
“Sure,” was the usual retort.
“I’m not kidding,” came my response.
“Do you even have a sister?” proffered the adult at the door to whichever house I was seeking Pixie Stix, Mary Janes, Whoppers, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, jawbreakers, candy necklaces and Necco wafers, especially the licorice wafers.
I was saved from being turned away without candy for my sister from time to time. At some houses, I was joined by other children in the neighborhood who knew my sister was sick because she did not go to school that day. One or two of them would assure the adult guarding the candy bowl that, indeed, my sister was sick. That seemed to satisfy the adult.
Every now and then, some wise guy would tell the adult: “Just because you put candy in his sister’s bag doesn’t mean she will get it.”
Usually, the adult would give me the once over and take a chance my sister would get her share by tossing candy in her bag.
“Make sure your sister gets this,” I would be admonished.
When I say bags, I mean paper bags. The candy I collected that night went into two bags, one for me and one for my sister.
Earlier that day, a light rain came to the neighborhood, leaving the yards somewhat damp. After dragging those two bags through the neighborhood, the bottoms of those bags became wet. At some point, one of those bags developed a small hole and began to “leak” candy, That’s right — it was my sister’s bag of candy that began leaking candy.
I discovered the problem when I arrived home. To my way of thinking, Angie would have to deal with having less candy because her bag was the one that leaked. My parents had a different idea.
The contents from my bag and Angie’s bag were dumped into a dry bag; then those contents were evenly divided between Angie and me. Here I had gone out and done the noble thing — collecting candy for my sick sister. That may have been the first time I ran into the saying that no good deed goes unpunished.
I figured that with her being sick, I’d get to dip into her share of candy because a sick child does not need to eat candy. I could not wait until the next day.
Miracle of miracles, Angie recovered from her illness by 8 a.m. the next day.
I never used a paper bag again to collect Halloween candy.

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. He despised getting apples and oranges at Halloween. When tossed into a plastic bag, they would break cookies and some candy.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike