Trick or Treat


The words are the same,  but the emphasis is completely different now from what it used to be.

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.  This is what to used to be.

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.

Hslliween toddlers


  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.

halloween joey and Kate


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 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 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.

While everyone carved a pumpkin into a Jack-o-lantern, inserted the stub of an old candle inside, and displayed it in the front window, there were no such things as Halloween decorations.  No pumpkins decorating outside steps–they would had been thrown in the street and smashed.  No fake cobwebs, no orange lights.   My parents always bought me a mask, but I never had a costume–very few kids did.  We did have candy corn, though.

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, bubble gum.  One year, my clever mother made popcorn balls to pass out.

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

What do you remember?

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