Monday, October 29, 2007

Remembering Halloweens Past

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!


Kelsey said...

Oh man, I would love a 1950's Halloween. Sounds so much better than a 2007 one.

I've said all along that I was born in the wrong generation. I really do wish it were possible to raise my kids in a more simple time.

Anonymous said...

Yes,indeed, our 1950's Halloween WAS totally on par with Christmas!

As Linda said, none of those cutesie orange plastic jack-o-lantern faced treat buckets...or Pottery Barn Kids name embroidered canvas bags for us!!! It was a big pillowcase for us too and our choices were well within reach...right in our own linen closets! Not personalized? Nope...mine was the pink floral and my brothers and sister chose others. As we scampered...well, OK..we get as many blocks covered as possible...we just clutched the tops closed in out tight little fists.
Linda, as an only child, I am thinking that just perhaps you missed out on all that late night Halloween treat trading (and maybe some begging and threats about trading) such as went on in my family. How else does one get rid of all those Jolly Rancher sticks and maximize the CHOCOLATE?
It will be dark in half an hour and I still have to frost the Halloween tupper takes (that's cupcakes for those who don't speak "2")and wake up Kayla 'cause her Mommy and Daddy will be here early to get her and take her home so she can turn into a black titty tat (figure it out!).

Thanks for bringing back the great memories, Linda!

And that's the way it was,

Walter C.

Linda said...

Walter Cronkite! Wow! Back from the dead on Halloween night, just to read my blog. I'm so impressed!