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For their first Halloween, their parents dressed up as the whole neighborhood

Bobby Huber and his sister, Fritzi Huber at a StoryCorps interview in Wilmington, N.C., in September.
Bobby Huber and his sister, Fritzi Huber at a StoryCorps interview in Wilmington, N.C., in September.

As the children of circus performers, Fritzi and Bobby Huber would spend nine months out of the year traveling the country with their parents.

While on the road, the family of four lived in a 26-foot-long trailer, stuffed with an array of costumes that parents Fritz and Betty wore in their act.

And even though costumes were a part of everyday life in the circus, Bobby and Fritzi had never heard of Halloween until they were six and seven, respectively.

It was an extraordinary first Halloween, the siblings said, looking back on the moment during a StoryCorps conversation earlier this month. It was the late 1950s and the family had been traveling through the Midwest at the time.

Naturally, their parents started by introducing them to trick-or-treating. Their parents gave them each a pillow case for their treat haul.

Fritzi grabbed a cowboy hat for her costume. Bobby wore his favorite blue jean jacket and his cowboy boots.

Bobby and Fritzi Huber hold hands at fairgrounds, circa 1950s.
/ Fritzi Huber
Bobby and Fritzi Huber hold hands at fairgrounds, circa 1950s.

But their mom and dad had stopped their trailer in a remote field to begin the festivities. There were no doors around to knock on. Instead, the trailer had everything their parents needed to show their kids what Halloween was all about.

The first trick-or-treat stop was at the front door of the trailer, Fritzi, 71, said. "If you went around the other side, there was a back door," she said.

As the kids made their way to the other side, their parents quickly changed costumes.

"The first thing we did was go around to the back door, when they became, like, a young couple," said Bobby, 70. When the kids went around to the front door, they were greeted by an old couple.

"All night long our parents became other people," said Fritzi. "They would take parts of their costume that they wore in the act."

Fritz and Betty Huber practice their high wire act.
/ Fritzi Huber
Fritz and Betty Huber practice their high wire act.

There were crazy hats and a new accent to go along with each costume, they said.

"I think dad was French when he had the smoking jacket on," Fritzi said.

And what did they receive for treats? Everything their parents had in the cabinets.

"I imagine they were in there just asking each other, 'Well, what else do we have to wear? I'm out of food, what's in the refrigerator?' " Fritzi said.

"I think they were unhappy that they ran out of things to give us. And finally, we get to the back door and this very old couple tells us our parents are probably worried, 'You should go home now.' "

Their parents kept up the act till the end.

"We went back to the front door and they were just sitting there and went, 'How was it? What did you get?' " Bobby recalled. "So, we came in and brought these heavy pillow sacks and they started taking things out. And my mom started putting things in the cabinet and going, 'Oh, this is just what we need.' "

Fritzi recalled their mother's words, adding: " 'I was gonna have to go shopping. Look, the cabinets are empty!' "

That first Halloween was a "really magical experience with our parents," she said.

Looking back, the siblings say experiences like that first Halloween made for a remarkable childhood.

"We always thought we were wealthy," Bobby said, "and we were — in a different way. We were millionaires."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Annie Russell

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

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