Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thirty-five Years Later, I Still Shudder

When I was little, Halloween was full of innocence and fun. The year I was 13, the innocence and fun disappeared when this happened on the outskirts of Houston, and it was maybe less than 5 miles from my house.

It took several days for the police to track down all the clues and arrest the father, so for almost a week sheer terror filled the homes of anyone with a child. The candy gleaned that year immediately went into our trash. (As the article indicates, many folks took theirs straight to the Police Department.) Even after the father's arrest and conviction, the horror remained, and trick-or-treating virtually disappeared for several years. When a few began venturing out, they only went to houses where they knew the residents, and hospitals advertised free x-rays of candy windfalls.

Although I don't at all like the darker side of Halloween, I've been glad to see some of the fun and camaraderie for children return to neighborhoods in recent years.

But even after 35 years, it still makes me nervous to watch my girl (my boy's not big on candy) eat a Pixy Stix, even one that has come straight from a store. I never was able to let her eat one from her Halloween bucket. Some memories are just etched too deep.

One thing I'm curious about: this was years before the age of cable news networks and internet, yet it was apparently a very well-publicized case, even attracting reporters from Europe to cover the trial. So for those of you outside of Texas (or at least Houston) who old are enough to remember events of the mid-1970's: did you hear about this? Where did you live? Did it impact your family's activities on Halloween?

Newspaper picture: Austin American-Statesman article 10/31/09
Pixy Stix picture: Google Images


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quilly said...

I wasn't trick or treating by this time, but yes, it impacted my neighborhood. I was stuffed into a costume and had to walk with my younger cousins around the neighborhood. No one was allowed to eat any of the candy that went in our bags. If candy came from someone we knew, we could eat it but ONLY if we knew them well. Everything else was examined throughly by the grown ups. Candy not factory sealed, or anything easily opened got tossed. Anything questionable got tossed.

sara said...

I never heard of this case. However, I do remember stories of things being put in the candy and for several years not being able to trick or treat. So this might have been the reason.

quilly said...

Oops! I lived in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho at the time.

Cheryl said...

I was only 3 the year this happened but I have an older brother and sister. So all my memories of trick or treating include coming home, dumping our candy out so our parents could examine it. Anything homemade or unwrapped was trashed immediately. I never knew why, but I'm sure this was the reason.

I live in Ga.

Kelly said...

I"m 41 and live in VA and have never heard this story.