It is Halloween sometime in the 1950s and me and my friends have hit the street. We are a club called the Eagles. We play basketball and so we have the best one-handed jump shot in the area in Dukie Lechman and we play baseball and so we have a terrific switch-hitter in Nick Papouchis and we play football, too, and so we boast Richie Rauchbach, almost 200 pounds of incredible strength. But tonight we are playing a different game. We are going to make the world miserable for adults.

And so we will soap the windows of cars. We will take lighter fluid and spread it across the road and then light it into flames. We will go trick-or-treating, but we want nothing of candy bars or apples or fistfuls of popcorn. We will accept money, usually some loose change, but what we want most of all is to be given nothing. Then we are free to do our tricks.

With our hearts racing, we will put bubble gum on the door bell so it rings all night. We will smash a 25-cent Mrs. Wagner's cherry pie into Sam Silverman's face and send him to a house so when someone opens the door they will be confronted by a kid who looks like a tank ran over his puss. We will do some other things that should not, in the name of good taste and public safety, be detailed in a newspaper. But we will, I tell you, have lots of fun -- and nobody will get hurt.

This is not the Halloween people talk about today. Now it is all about candy and junk food and apples. It is also about razor blades in apples and poison in candy and the efforts of communities across the country to organize the event so that kids cannot get hurt. They want to herd them into dances or into parties or they want to cancel Halloween altogether -- maybe get Kate Smith to sing for it. What they want most of all is to make sure that the nuts of this world cannot hurt our children.

But you have to have noticed by now that something strange has happened -- something awful. Halloween, which used to be the night kids took a crack at adults, has now become the night when adults take a crack at kids. It is all wrong, a perversion of the very spirit of this delightful night. There is no accounting for the mentality that prompts someone to try to hurt a kid, but there is no doubt that they have the opportunity to do so because the meaning of the night has been turned upside down.

Adults have taken Halloween away from the kids. They have sanitized it. This is the natural outgrowth of the suburban ethic in which almost everything is seen as an assault on property values: No traffic. No trash dumps. No mischief on Halloween. As part of the keep-off-the-lawn mentality of our times, Halloween has been purged of its its essentially innocuous and childish evil. Now instead of a few kids acting excessively, it is a few adults. The results are far worse.

In fact, Halloween has simply fallen victim to the trend to make no distinction between adults and children. Adults worship youth and youth worships age and everyone tries to become a single, uniform age. Children and adults dress alike, talk alike and watch the same television programs. Now it is grown-ups as well as children who go to costume parties and wear funny masks on the streets. No matter what their disguise, they are masquerading as children. Enough! Give Halloween back to the kids.

Kids -- are you out there? Listen, don't take any candy -- none whatsoever. Demand money. Ask for pennies. They're better for your teeth anyway. Pennies can't poison you. You can't hide a razor blade in pennies. In the wealthier areas, hold out for nickels. Use your calculators and then ask a percentage of the assessed valuation of the house and when you get turned down remember that the word that precedes "treat" is "trick." Use your imagination.

Kids -- are you still with me? Take Halloween back. Have fun. Don't be malicious and don't be cruel. Be respectful of the elderly and don't do anything you would just hate to have done to you. But in the name of Sam and Richie, Dukie and Nick, take back this night. It's not only more fun that way, it's safer, too