‘Trick or treat, baby!’ SLO County residents share funny — and spooky — Halloween memories

As North Coast kids head for trunk-or-treat events in Cambria and San Simeon on Halloween, some of us will be breathing a sigh of relief.

For the past six weeks or more, we’ve been swamped by terrifying TV shows and movies, spooky music and seemingly endless ads for costumes, party ideas and décor.

As someone who can still get nightmares after watching the animated movie “Bambi,” I so want it to be Nov. 1.

Childhood memories of Halloween are mostly fun

What I remember most now about my childhood Halloween experiences is laughter, silly shenanigans and funny, often sweet, costumes.

I did get thoroughly sick of dressing up as Dorothy Gale from “The Wizard of Oz,” carrying my basket and a stuffed toy that looked more like a baby Cowardly Lion than Toto.

My mom said she kept reusing the costume because I looked so much like Judy Garland, who played the girl in the 1939 movie. I suspect that economics may have played a role in that decision as well.

What I really wanted to be was a ballerina or a princess. Oh well.

Even so, there were so many fun times to remember, and my other All Hallow’s Eve memories are truly upbeat.

I recall helping my mom and grandmother decorate grandma’s big house, making Halloween goodies and prepping for the annual Halloween party.

We’d bob for apples, carve pumpkins and try to catch marshmallows and doughnuts hung from the ceiling by a string. We also played pin the stem on the pumpkin, and drank lots of a wonderful apple cider punch, a recipe that I’ve never been able to replicate.

There was trick or treating, of course. We made sure we always went to the estate where the costumed man-of-the-house could be counted on to dispense full-sized candy bars and dollar bills!

Those were fun times, especially when my normally up-tight grandfather briefly shed his authoritarian demeanor to get in on the fun and lighthearted pranks.

Richard and Kathe Tanner hand out more than 350 half-sized glazed doughnuts to trick-or-treaters in Cambria’s East Village on Halloween morning in 1981. Richard Tanner is dressed as a gambler, reflecting his 18 years as a pit boss at Harrah’s Club in Reno.
Richard and Kathe Tanner hand out more than 350 half-sized glazed doughnuts to trick-or-treaters in Cambria’s East Village on Halloween morning in 1981. Richard Tanner is dressed as a gambler, reflecting his 18 years as a pit boss at Harrah’s Club in Reno.

What SLO County residents remember most about holiday?

When I asked others “What was the funniest thing that ever happened to you on Halloween,” they shared memories from their adulthoods rather than their childhoods.

Lorienne Schwenk of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce is still laughing about answering the door on Halloween to find a “very tiny, wee, little Austin Powers” of 4 or 5 years old.

“Through fake, bad English teeth, he said ‘Trick or treat, baby!’ and I nearly died laughing,” she wrote. “He may have gotten extra candy.”

Linda Giordano of Cambria recalled a memorable encounter she had during her first year as a postal worker, when she was in her early 20s.

“I was out past dark, delivering mail in a neighborhood on Halloween,” she said. “A couple opened the door, dropped several pieces of candy into my satchel and told me my costume was so cool!”

Laurel Renz of Paso Robles said she was at the Exotic Erotic Ball in San Francisco when she “found out someone I knew pretty well really was a cross dresser!”

Kristen Barnhart, a retired San Luis Obispo County librarian, recalled the year that the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office “waited for a certain circle of women outside the cemetery.”

“They ‘didn’t want to disturb us,’ but needed to remind us that it (the cemetery) was not open at night,” she said. “They were actually scared. We heard them trying to decide whether or not to come in.”

A serious occasion turned silly for photographer Michele Sherman of Cambria.

“Prior to breast cancer surgery, I was sent to the cardiologist to make sure my heart was healthy enough for the procedure. I was nervous to begin with and the thought of doing a stress test had me on edge,” she wrote. “I was sitting in the exam room waiting for the doctor. The door opened, and I was very startled to see the nurse elaborately dressed as a witch, in flowing purple and black.”

After Sherman’s initial reaction, she had a good laugh over the nurse’s appearance.

“It was just what I needed to relax,” she said.

My memories of Halloween as an adult?

My Halloween memories as an adult revolve around my silly kids.

I remember how, in middle school, my son Sean spent hours to build an elaborate box with handles inside and a fold-down door at the front. When he put it on, he became a human rural-route mailbox.

His costume wouldn’t fit inside our car, so he had to pivot to trick-or-treating with his friend Devik Soukup in his mom’s van, which had a sliding door.

My son Brian dressed up while working as a bartender.

He padded his belly and put on a house dress, long necklaces and clip-on earrings, plus a pair of fuzzy, bear-paw slippers. He then donned a sign that read “barefoot and pregnant.”

I remember some of my own adult hijinks, too.

Once my husband and I dressed up as “A Christmas Carol” characters Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley, respectively. I was in head-to-toe black, dragging padlocked chains behind me.

Unfortunately, when we got home, we couldn’t find the keys to unlock the padlocks.

Don’t ever try to sleep with chains on your ankles, folks.

Have a wonderful, fun Halloween … but no nightmares, please.

Halloween eventsin California, San Simeon

Looking for some Halloween fun on the North Coast?

After school on Halloween afternoon, a parade of costumed kids and grownup will participate in a holiday parade beginning at Froggies, 801 Main St. in California, and proceeding through West Village on the odd-numbered side of Main Street to Old Stone Station.

The parade participants will then cross to the even-numbered side of the street to Pinedorado grounds at 940 Main St., next to the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building for the Trunk or Treat event, which runs from 4 to 5:30 p.m..

At Trunk or Treat, hot dogs donated by Bob & Jan’s will be served by Sons of American Legion Post No. 432, and the legion’s auxiliary will serve juice boxes and water. For details, call Liz Bannon at 805-235-1818.

San Simeon’s Trunk or Treat event is 4:30 to 6 p.m. next to San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill at 9520 Castillo Drive. To enter a vehicle, email Judy Sandoval at guizarjudy@@yahoo.com.