My friends Jan and Rick Hauptmann lived in a beautiful home on East 17th Street in Portales, a broad road that bisects one of the most popular trick-or-treating neighborhoods in town.
Early each Halloween evening, Miss Jan would set up business on her porch with a comfy chair, a warm coat, a lap robe, an enormous floppy witch’s hat, and a vat of candy. Rick, a self-professed curmudgeon, stayed inside except when the candy needed restocking. He pretended to be grumpy, but he fooled no one.
Miss Jan had two rules: Young visitors had to say, “Trick or treat,” and they had to say, “Thank you.” It mattered not whether it was a too-cool-for-a-costume teenager toting a pillowcase, or a toddler taking tentative steps under gossamer wings. Miss Jan insisted on manners and she was not above demanding them.
If this makes her sound grim, I am misrepresenting her, because under that witch’s hat glowed the most beautiful smile you’ve ever seen, illuminated by a heart of purest gold.
If your porch light is on this evening, and you are welcoming ghosts and goblins, don’t forget to remind them to use their manners.
Miss Jan would approve.
Betty Williamson misses the Hauptmanns all year long, and especially at Halloween. You may reach her at