That spooky time of the year is upon us once again. That season when scary apparitions appear from nowhere and frighten the bejeebers out of the populace by leaping out and shouting such things as “Boo!” or “Trick or treat!”
    But enough about politicians and the next election. A very important holiday is also just around the corner, that excellent national celebration known as Halloween.     
    Halloween is most juvenile boys’ favorite holiday. This is not just because metric tons of candy are involved, but also because Halloween is a holiday that tolerates and, yes, even encourages prankish behavior. In other words, for one glorious day of the year boys are totally free to be boys.     
    Halloween is also cool because it entails disguises. Back when I was a stripling, participating in a Halloween party and wearing a Halloween costume were required by our school. In my opinion, Halloween was way better than most other school-mandated activities such as arithmetic or phonics.      
    The final day of October was highly anticipated by everybody in my grade school. Costume ideas were discussed at great length, at least amongst the town kids. We farm kids mostly listened at the fringes, trying to conceal our secret jealousy of the town kids.     
    This was due to the fact that the majority of us country kids were poor, although we did not realize it at the time. This meant that most of us had to make do with homemade Halloween costumes.
    A common tactic for us farm boys was to don some of our fathers’ old work clothes – blue denim bib overalls were a recurrent theme – stuff the voids and the cuffs with straw and go as a scarecrow. Although nowadays, this character might be described as an Avian Affright Administrator.
    A common strategy for the farm girls was to don some of their mothers’ old clothes, apply enough makeup to supply a clown college, pile on mass quantities of cheap yet gaudy jewelry and go as a gypsy fortune teller. Although nowadays, this character would probably be described as a Peripatetic Providence Prognosticator.
    This stood in stark contrast to the town kids. We country kids theorized that the town kids whined and sniveled and begged until their parents purchased extravagant, commercially made Halloween costumes for them.
    These store-bought costumes came with plastic masks that had two microscopic holes that were supposed to allow the wearer to see and two pinholes that supposedly enabled the wearer to breathe. Not that any of this was a safety concern. The flimsy rubber band that held the masks in place usually broke during its first use.      
    When the Big Day finally came, the town kids arrived at school toting department store sacks which held still-in-the-box store-bought Halloween costumes. We farm kids, on the other hand, clutched large, wrinkled brown grocery bags that smelled faintly of mothballs and sweat and cow manure and straw.     
    When the time for the Halloween party finally arrived (the last hour of the school day), the teacher gave the word and my classmates and I became a blur of activity as we hustled into our costumes. Once we were thus attired, a strange stillness, like the quiet before a storm, fell over the classroom. It was a struggle to comprehend the sudden transformation that had just taken place.     
    The town kids looked silly, dressed as they were as Superman or Batman or some other cartoonish character. We farm boys looked just as silly, appearing to be miniature, straw-stuffed versions of our dads.     
    But we quickly forgot all about whether a costume came from a store or from a closet as we embraced the spirit of Halloween. The teacher soon had us playing games, and the classroom became a tableau of mass bedlam. Such behavior would have never been tolerated any other day of the year.
    The teacher would conjure up a supply of soda pop and candy, fueling our already high-spirited mood with a massive blast of refined sugar. We giggled and ran about, pinging off the walls like the silver ball in a pinball machine. It was wonderful.    
    My pals and I agreed that Halloween was the best thing to have happened during the entire school year. When we returned to our homes that afternoon, we were primed and ready for a night of trick-or-treating. By the time Halloween evening was over, our blood sugars would attain levels commonly associated with maple syrup.     
    And in the end, the town kids and the farm kids had all but forgotten about the origins of our respective costumes.    
    But not entirely. Because some of us tended to leave ghostly trails of straw.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, S.D. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.