Why I do not like Halloween
Unlike many of our type 1 members, I was diagnosed later in life with type 1. Well not terribly later, I was 17, but late enough that I got to enjoy the custom of going door to door to soliciting candy for me and my father’s consumption. Since Mom was a diabetic she might have slipped a piece or two, but really the haul went to my dad and I. I got to grow up doing Halloween and I will admit I love candy, especially chocolate and Pay Day candy bars, so Halloween was a pretty good time at my house.
So why do I dislike it so much? No it’s not because diabetes took all the candy away. I still slip in a mini Mr. Good Bar once in a while or a square of Ghiradelli Chocolate when I can find it. No my reasons are more personal than lack of candy. There are two.
The first one did not happen to me, but it had a big impact. In 1963, on Halloween night at the Indiana State Fair Grounds during a performance of what was called “Holiday on Ice” there was a propane explosion and the incident ended up killing 74 people and injuring (estimates vary) about 400 more. The incident occurred at 11 PM during the finale and the explosion was ignited by a popcorn machine. According to the investigators the propane was leaking from an aged tank and that gas built up in a room where eventually the vapors reached the popcorn machine and the mayhem ensued.
The incident is said to have propelled bodies into the air as high as 20 feet and according to the Indianapolis Star, they laid the bodies on the ice in approximate age so the next of kin could identify them. Here is a story about the event:
Oh and if you are inclined to read the story, it is a factual account not a ghoulish sensational account so it will be ok for most readers.
At the time of this tragedy I was 6 years old and my mother had just been diagnosed that same year with diabetes. She loved ice shows, and she really wanted to go. However because of uncertainty of her insulin and lows, the fact it was Halloween night and so on so forth my parents did not get tickets. Yes I was that close to being in that crowd. It is something I will never forget and frankly it still scares the heck out of me. Whatever fun was in Halloween was pretty much gone the next day when I woke up for school saw the carnage and realized death was pretty close. My mom’s illness, a stupid propane leak, being here or there, all of them figured into who died and who lived and why we never know.
The second issue happened when I was 10. It was 1967 and for the first time my parents let me go ticker treating by myself. 10 was about the age when you stopped going around holding houses for ransom, so they figured I was old enough to do my thing. Actually I probably was. But the story I will tell might make others think maybe a parent should have been present.
I dressed up and dutifully went door to door and collected my ransom. I really did not do mischief. One of my buddies was soaping windows but I was more into the candy. As I say it was the age when the worm started to turn in my neighborhood. At about 11 you get into trouble for oing door to door, at 10 you collected candy ransoms.
At the conclusion of the night I was walking home with a pretty good bag full of candy, when out of some shadows this older male stepped in my way. He had a knife and demanded my candy. He poked the knife forward and said he would cut me to pieces if didn’t hand it over. The thing is I knew this guy, he worked in the cafeteria of the school I attended. I don’t know if he was a student worker from the High School, if he had graduated and was the best job he could get, or more likely he was a drop out and at 16 was given a chance to earn some money. Still it was that guy.
I gave him my candy, he poured it into his sack which was bulging and he said if he caught out again he would not ask for candy he would just cut me up. At 10 I believed him. I finished my walk home and I passed in front of an acquaintances house and these two (mean as snot) were holding kids up for candy. They had toy guns they had made to look real and they were threatening 7-10 year olds to give them their candy. I knew both these guys and while they certainly did not like me, I did not have any candy so they left me alone. I could after all tell their dad and he would beat them within an inch of their lives. (Sometimes we wonder why kids are as they are?) Anyway, I went home and that was how gathering candy door to door ended for me.
The next day I saw this guy at school. He was taking trays as he did every day, and I thought look last night this idiot stole my candy and today he is taking my tray. An idea struck, foul up the tray so bad it was disgusting and I did that for a few days but it really sort of got old. So I stopped. I mean, look he was washing trays in the cafeteria for goodness sakes and stealing kids candy. Obviously a fouled tray was not his biggest issue.
I actually never told anyone of the stealing, and it was actually not the first time I was threatened for Candy. When I was about 7 or 8 I went inside the house and man (I later learned he was homeless) was in our living room taking candy form a candy dish. He also had a knife and told me to never tell otherwise he would find me and hurt me. Well frankly that candy was not much good so I let it pass and never told my mom or dad. They would not have believed me anyway, I mean who steals candy by knife point from your living room?
In a way these random unconnected events were like diabetes to me they just sort of happened. One day my mom was fine, the next she was very ill. One day there was candy in the dish and someone with a knife took it. Not connected and yet strangely the same things, events that happened to you not things within our control. The state fair event was the biggest thing however. People just sitting there and a tragedy happened. I will still never forget it. For me it was like diabetes. One day it showed up not in my control, not my choice, something that happened and in many ways that something left a lasting, negative, impression.
Here is a neat story about the state fair tragedy it is well worth looking at. It will take some the sting out of the story.