Friday, October 9, 2009

Halloween then, now, and in between

I only clearly remember one Halloween from when I was a kid. But I know we went trick-or-treating every year and our parents would let us go through the neighborhood alone. We were in a large group of kids and this was the 60s, so what's to worry about right? We had plenty of houses to hit right in our own neighborhood. Back to the Halloween in question that I remember: the reason that I remember it was that I stepped in dog doo very early in the festivities, but no way was I missing Halloween. So I just cleaned up the best I could and soldiered on with the group, learning early the meaning of Keep Calm and Carry On. By the way, I was dressed as Peter Pan and my little elf shoes were not doggy-doo-friendly. No photos have turned up of those early Halloweens, my parents were clearly not into Hallmark moments all that much!

By contrast, I have photos of most of my son's Halloweens until he and his friends just used it as an excuse to roam the neighborhood in the dark sans costumes (multiple photos and double prints — this was the 90s, before the dawn of digital cameras). Until he was 4, his dad and I took him to the local mall on Halloween. In California the mall was the place for tiny little trick-or-treaters. After he graduated from that, one of us walked him through the neighborhood. The most frightening Halloween experience ever: at a house in our neighborhood a guy burst up out of a coffin brandishing a (running) chain saw just as we came up the front walk! You'd think it would give you nightmares, but my kid was fearless then and has been ever since. He's never been one to jump at things that go bump (or roar) in the night! The scarier the better!  Starting with the Ninja costume, it has been a hard and fast rule that Halloween costumes MUST be scary. We have had "Scream", a skeleton, a vampire, and many other gory/frightening characters that I have forgotten.  I know that the Scream mask hung around the house for a few years and was used multiple times when the whole point of Halloween was to go marauding through the neighborhood, not what you looked like doing it. It was the ages between 12 and 14 when they really wanted the candy, but were not that into the dress-up part. 

We now live in a friendly old neighborhood where the small kids make the rounds with their parents and bigger kids go out in groups like we used to do. We get close to 100 trick-or-treaters between 6 and 8 p.m. When we close the door and turn off the porch light at 8 o'clock (town rule that saves us — Trick or Treat lasts only 2 hours) we are more exhausted than if we had made the rounds with little ones. Between greeting each little reveler and worrying that the candy might not last til 8, it just tuckers you out!

Anyone have a story to add, scary, funny, anything memorable or best forgotten? Comment if you dare!



  1. My Mom used to tell us stories of Trick or Treating in Calgary. She'd end her trek at the Chicken on the Way where they'd give her a large box of fresh cut french fries and by large I mean family sized, then she'd head to the corner gas station where she'd be given a large chocolate bar and bottle of Pepsi. not only would she have a pillow case full of candy but a dinner of sorts as well.

    As for pictures, we have lots of my sister and me growing up and one that I still to this day have no clue about what it is that I've been dressed as. It looks like it might be a duck but no one is sure. It was my vary first costume and the mask is one of those plastic ones with the elastic string and the tiny little eye holes.

  2. Tami, lol! Funny stories! I know I had a few of those masks with the little eye holes!

  3. Love the photos! My mom used to make all my costumes. Poor thing, one year I wanted to go as a sea horse. She managed that one, but drew the line the year I wanted to be a blue whale! I was a butterfly that year instead.

  4. Those poor moms! My mom made most of mine too. But a seahorse! Wow.

    I forgot about the year I made a lightning bug costume for my son. Funny!

  5. Those pictures are great! I remember going around the block alone with my little sister in the dark. One family, that we sort-of knew, invited us in for cookies. Of course we went! It probably took us over an hour to do the whole block, and my mom never came looking for us. and I was a clown with a red curly wig nearly every year - my mom's favorite costume to put me in. Not very feminine, but I got used to it.

  6. Maybeads, speaking of getting invited in for cookies - when we first moved to PA from California we rented a house in a predominantly Italian neighborhood. The families had lived there for generations and mostly all knew each other. I was so surprised on our first Halloween, when we were invited in at house after house and made to feel like family. It took us twice as long to go up and down the street! When we moved to a new neighborhood, things returned to normal. It's been almost 10 years and I still miss those neighbors!


I always love to hear what you have to say! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!