The times were different in the '50s and '60s, when I was a kid and trick-or-treating rolled around.
In the first place, there were no fears about our safety. People in cars drove about slowly, watching out for the children. And evil thoughts of putting razor blades or other harmful elements into the treats had not yet entered any one's mind.
Secondly, yesteryear's treats were better than today's. Lots of people gave homemade popcorn balls, wrapped in cellophane; others did caramel apples or homemade cookies; and those who gave candy gave whole, full-sized candy bars. Some even invited you inside to have a cup of cocoa. Believe it or not, plastic bags weren't around back then, so we usually used pillow cases, because paper bags just wouldn't hold the weight of our abundant "loot."
And thirdly, it was a night of independence for kids; parents stayed home to hand out the treats. Juneau was a small town, and we, the kids, had the run of all the streets. I would usually start near the corner of Glacier Avenue and Twelfth Street; would work my way up and down Twelfth, Eleventh, Tenth and Ninth Streets; then up the hill to the Governor's Mansion. The Governor or his wife always answered the door and dropped a Hershey bar in our bags. Sometimes the Governor even invited us to step inside for a moment, to warm up, since we could usually count on our first cold, wet, sloppy snowfall of the year arriving on Halloween night (another reason why paper bags just didn't work).
Across the street from the back side of the Governor's Mansion lived my friend, Kathleen P. Kathleen's dad was a big tease. When kids rang his doorbell and hollered, "Trick or treat," he would open the door, invite them inside, and then say, "Here's your treat. Now you owe me a trick." And he wouldn't let them leave until they sang a song, did a dance, told a joke or riddle, or, at the very least, made a funny face for him.
If trick-or-treating was the highlight of Halloween, it certainly wasn't the only fun activity. There was the costume parade that wound its way through the halls and classrooms of all three floors of Fifth Street Elementary School. And there was the art contest sponsored by the downtown merchants. All elementary age children were invited to register to decorate a shop window on a designated day, shortly before Halloween. Each participant was assigned to a specific window and issued a bar of Ivory Soap. Only the soap could be used as the art medium on the windows; and prizes were given to winning artists in a multitude of categories.
Things might be a little different now, but some things never change. Kids still have fun on Halloween. And I, for one, still love the opportunity to greet little tykes in cute costumes, at my door, and to drop a little treat into their trick-or-treat bag. Here's wishing you and your little goblins a safe and happy Halloween, 2007-style!
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