With Halloween just a few days away, I began to reminisce about the fun we (and I mean those of us who could be referred to as “mid-century”) had as kids going Trick or Treating. The anticipation would start to build weeks in advance as we planned our costumes. Now these weren’t store bought costumes. No, we would take stuff from around the house and put it all together to create our costumes. Occasionally we would see some kids with the store bought costumes but they were light-weights, not dedicated trick-or-treaters like we were. There was one little girl who had on this fairy costume with a diaphanous dress and delicate fairy wings. Well, it was a chilly night so she was wearing a sweater over her costume with the wings out back. When she got to a house, her parent would take the wings off, she would take off her sweater, and the parent would reattach the wings. After she left the house, the process would reverse – wings off, sweater on, wings on. This repeated at every, single house. Even as a kid, I knew this was a terribly inefficient way of doing things. I mean, how was she going to cover a lot of territory?
I remember one year in particular. I was ten years old and my sister was fifteen. I decided to be a witch that year and worked on my black dress and pointed hat. My sister decided to be a pumpkin-headed ghost. Her costume consisted of a sheet for the body and a cardboard pumpkin head that was covered with orange crepe paper. When the appointed night arrived, we headed out as soon as possible. Waiting to go out trick or treating was akin to waiting the mandatory one hour after eating before we could go swimming. It was torture. We had to eat a good dinner first. We had to wait until it was dark enough.
At the stroke of 6 p.m., we grabbed our treat bags and hit the ground running. Back in those days, most kids roamed the neighborhood unaccompanied by adults. Only the little kids had a parent with them. We covered both sides of our street and the next two streets over. This amounted to about 50 houses. Sometimes our treat bags got so full that we had to come back home and dump them so we could cover more territory. If we had time we would head to the second block on our street and the next one.
Eventually, it would get late and we would straggle home about 9 p.m. Then the fun began. Sorting through all the candy and deciding what to eat first. The worst candies were those orange and black wrapped taffy things. I didn’t know anybody who liked them. We always put them aside. Then we put our favorite, choicest, name-brand candy aside to savor later and we sampled the medium-favorite candy. We put our candy away in our special, secret storage places and ate it despite all the parental warnings about cavities, sickness, and ruining our appetites.
In all, trick-or-treating was a fun-filled night of adventure with the bonus of free candy! Now the night I was the witch and my sister was the pumpkin ghost happened to be a little foggy. We made our rounds as usual and when we returned home we discovered that crepe paper and fog are not a good combination. The moisture in the air had caused the dye in the crepe paper to run down and drip on the white sheet below. So now my sister was a water-logged pumpkin head with an orange-streaked ghost body. That’s how I remember it. I’m sure my sister would have a different version of the story.
What’s your favorite Halloween memory?