Halloween in West Virginia – Many Treats, One Nasty Trick

By Michael M. Barrick

Halloween always conjures many memories of growing up in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Virtually all of the recollections are treats. However, there is one dastardly trick I will always remember.

First, though, I wish to focus on the treats.

The first treat was the costumes that my mom made for us every year. She would ask our wishes and out of our imaginations came costumes from her fingers and sewing machine. My favorite costume was that of the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz. It would have made a Broadway costume designer envious. It was complete with a tail that if I didn’t hold onto, would swipe my little sister in the face.

On the big night, mom would stay home and give away the candy to the neighborhood children. Making the costumes must have been joy enough for her, for it was Dad that always got to walk us through the neighborhood for us to collect our treats. Or, maybe it was her trick on my dad. Either way, it was a treat for us.

The other treat I recall is of time with Dad. He traveled a great deal in his job, so time with him was always coveted and special. We did sometimes have to fight him off, especially if a Hershey’s bar was dropped into our bag. If it had almonds, it didn’t even make it into the bag. By the time we got home with full bags and worn out feet, dad’s pockets were full of empty candy wrappers.

It is these lovely memories of treats that makes the trick all that more painful. That is because we lived on a dead-end street in a quiet neighborhood, full of children, consisting of the cobblestone streets on which we played. Our back yard was bordered by Elk Creek, had two ponds, and a canopy of trees. It was my sanctuary.

That home, however, no longer stands. Using the trick of eminent domain, the state tore it down to build what is now the Joyce Street exit of U.S. Rt. 50. Yes, I still have the memories. But what I don’t have is the opportunity to show my children where I grew up – where I came to be the person they know.

But I’m learning to accept it for a simple reason – not even that vile trick can deprive me of the lovely memory of the treats of walking through darkened streets with my sisters in costumes made by our mom, our dad tagging close behind.

© Appalachian Chronicle, 2014.


  1. Michael, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Teaching school for thirty eight years in the lower elementary grades was a joy at “holiday” time. I love this post – but I could say that about all of your work. Love, Bunny

  2. Michael, thank you for keeping me on your email list. I love hearing from you and miss you dearly. We are having a gorgeous Fall. Love, Bunny

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