Jon Dawson: Halloween costume fire extinguished with collards

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In just a few days it’ll be Halloween, which gives you plenty of time to practice turning out the lights and pretending not to be home.

During my prime trick-or-treating years from the ages of 3 to 27, Halloween costumes were a simple affair. Sitting in what looked like a Krispy Kreme doughnut box would be a plastic Superman outfit with a cape and mask. The outfit and cape were made of a plastic so toxic there was a warning on the box about leaving the windows in the car rolled down while trick-or-treating. The mask smelled like antique formaldehyde and was strapped to your face with a rubber band tight enough to cut diamonds.

I can’t prove the costumes were flammable, but I have my suspicions. One Halloween a nice lady placed a Snickers bar in my bag while puffing on a Newport cigarette. A stray ember from her cigarette landed on my Superman outfit and within three seconds it was transformed into a Human Torch outfit. The lady pushed me to the ground to put the fire out, but since she was still smoking the cigarette the fire kept flaming back up. I had to finish trick-or-treating that night wearing the woman’s Avon Sales Rep of the Year windbreaker.

The day after Halloween I’d hear the other kids at school talking about the dozens of pounds of candy they’d accumulated the night before. Growing up in a rural area it was pretty tough for me to rack up impressive numbers because there were a couple of miles between most of the houses in our neighborhood. Sometimes the trip between houses was so long we’d have to dip into my candy supply to have enough protein to make it the next house.

Porch boards, pillow covers, clothes and more now available at Bannister’s in La Grange, located at 106 West Railroad Street.

Rural trick-or-treating is also different in that you’re not always going to receive store-bought candy. For every Twix or Zero bar, there’d be a sweet potato, a bag of cornbread and in one case a fresh sausage biscuit. My parents said they routinely received collards when they were trick-or-treating.

It’s fun to scare people, and this year many houses will be booby trapped with expensive displays designed to scare the breakfast right out of your children. Back when I was trick-or-treating in the Bucklesberry community, no one needed expensive special effects to scare people up a tree. The scariest thing I ever saw at Halloween – and it’s still tough to talk about – was the time someone offered my parent’s a glass of unsweetened tea. I had nightmares about it for years and to this day carry two emotional support condiments (packs of sugar) in my pocket.

Avoid the box store blues with a trip to Blizzard Building Supply, located at 405 Walston Ave, Kinston.

As for this year, I’m not sure if our beloved Tax Deductions will be aging out of the Halloween festivities. TD#1 will most likely be going as a teenager with mountains of homework, while TD#2 has narrowed it down to either Cruella or Mr. T, I’m trying to talk The Wife into going as Wonder Woman. As for myself, I’ve narrowed it down to either Brad Pitt or George Clooney – neither of which will require much prep time.

Jon Dawson’s books available at

Hear Jon Monday through Friday on the Bryan Hanks Show:

The Bryan Hanks Show airs on 960-AM in Kinston, and daily at 7 a.m. & 3 p.m. It also airs on the suite of stations in New Bern and Greenville (107.5-FM) at 6 p.m. Archived shows available at

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