Back in the Day–Halloween

Back in the Day–Halloween

Running, running, running–down the street, through back yards–not that anyone was actually chasing us, but we liked to think there was.  Pinning doorbells and car horns, and soaping windows were high adventure to us and major annoyances for grown-ups in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

According to   Alliance Data Retail Services (ADRS), a marketing and customer loyalty solutions provider, the first of the major shopping holidays is upon us.  In fact, Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that gets consumers to open up their pocketbook—next to Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.

$2.08 billion: The total amount expected to be spent on candy (NRF).(Forbes on line 10/22/13) .

My, how things have changed.

When I was a child, during WWII, Trick or Treating was much more about the tricks than the treats.


There were no cute little toddlers dressed as fairy princesses or pirates carrying a bag or a plastic pumpkin for their loot, accompanied by their parents.

We started Trick or Treating about 2 weeks before Halloween.

Gangs of 6-10 kids, 5th through 8th grade, informally came together outside after supper when it was dark.  Tricks consisted of pinning doorbells or car horns–easy to do, one pushed the bell or horn and stuck a stick in the side and then ran like heck.  The other frequent trick was soaping windows.  We all carried a partially-used cake of soap and scribbled on house and car windows , usually on glass–easy to wash off, but occasionally on screens if the resident was so foolish as to leave them up this late in the year–not so easy to remove.

Occasionally, we would tip over a garbage can.  I have a vague memory of a garbage can being put on top of a garage roof.

There was a neighborhood haunted house–a large run-down mansion, its paint long gone, on a hill on a large corner lot.   An old lady with long gray hair had occasionally been spotted.  We went as far as the front door, but ran away before we knocked on the door.  The house was eventually torn down, the hill removed, and a YMCA built.  That was eventually torn down, as well, and a development was planned.  The Real Estate crisis of 2008 interfered and the property remains vacant–a large hole in the neighborhood.

Finally, on Halloween night, we might be given a few treats.  We didn’t carry a bag because our take was so meager–we just ate as we went.  Small, blemished, homegrown apples were frequent, which we destained and usually threw away.  There were no miniature candy bars that stores provide now, but there was penny candy–caramels, candy kisses, Tootsie Rolls, lollypops, a stick of gum.  One year, my clever mother made popcorn balls to pass out.

The only Halloween decoration was a Jack-o-Lantern in the front window.  My parents always bought me a mask, but I never had a costume–very few kids did.

But the camaraderie, the fun, the running, running, running–those were exciting, exuberant times I’ve never forgotten.


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