Editor’s Notebook: Halloween on Old Long Island

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Halloween kind of snuck up on us this year. By that I mean to say that we forgot to buy candy, and by the time we realized it we knew that the stores had been picked clean of everything but probably some Smarties and white chocolate. So rather than subject the neighborhood kids to sub-par treats, we decided to go dark.

Lights out. No cars in the driveway. The pumpkin stored inside to prevent resentful smashing.

If Halloween in my neighborhood is anything like it was in the one I grew up in, I see some time in my driveway with a hose and some eggshells in my future.

We’re holed up at my sister’s house in Greensboro’s Latham Park neighborhood, with a bathtub full of candy and, thus far, a thin trickle of trick-or-treaters coming through. My sister remembers the holiday in our hometown on Long Island. Things were… different.

“It was like legalized assault,” my sister says. “People would cover you in shaving cream. They’d steal your candy. And our parents would be like, ‘Whelp, that’s the way it goes on Halloween!’”

Rather than subject the neighborhood kids to sub-par treats, we decided to go dark.

On Halloween night, regardless of the day upon which it fell, our neighborhood hosted dozens of roaming packs of children — after about 5 p.m. there was not an adult in sight. After dark a sort of suburban Lord of the Flies thing went down on our streets, with clashes involving fireworks, shaving cream and eggs. I myself began carrying shaving cream — to defend myself, I told my parents when I asked them to buy me some — when I was 9 years old.

The eggs I had to swipe from the fridge.

With us tonight are my teenage sons, the oldest of which, judging by his noncommittal posture on the couch, can’t even.

The younger, 14, marks his very first Halloween without a costumed trip through the neighborhoods by manning the front door and handing out increasingly larger handfuls of candy. My sister really bought too much, which is fine by me.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to go out, the younger says. But his squad had a weekend full of action, and none of them, it turns out, are interested in getting in on the street game.

When my sister and I regale him with tales from Halloweens of Old Long Island, he looks horrified. Turns out the kid has never thrown an egg in his life.

“Is it fun?” he asks.

I do not answer. Not right away.

“Not as much fun as this,” I lie.