Was Halloween simpler years ago or is it just my childhood memories that make it seem so?
These days the kids put on their costumes to go to school for a party during the day and often there is some kind of a Halloween Carnival at school in the evening. Churches sponsor Halloween parties as do community centers, youth groups, boy and girl scout organizations, 4-H groups, and libraries. I know many of the organized parties of today are to make it safer for children in these less than carefree times. Matter of fact, going from house to house these days is simply not done in many areas.
Back in my day (she says in a quavering voice and banging her cane for emphasis), I never remember having had a purchased costume. Ours were always pulled together with clothing or materials readily available at home. Anything elaborate (or expensive!) didn't enter into the picture. Often, I can remember wearing the same get-up for more than one Halloween.
I can recall my mom wrapping me in the afghan off the couch to which I added a headband and feather made out of construction paper. I was a squaw . . . clad in a granny square afghan. Or I was a hobo in my oldest jeans and flannel shirt with a red bandana stuffed with crumpled newspaper tied to the end of a stick which I carried over my shoulder. This costume was made a titch more exotic by Mom burning the end of a cork and smearing it on my face so I looked sufficiently grubby.
Being a cowboy wasn't hard if I could talk my brother into letting me use his cowboy hat and cap gun and holster set. And I'm positive he and I both got a lot of mileage out of an old white sheet when we became ghosts on alternating years.
We didn't have parties to go to but looked forward with great anticipation to walking around our whole residential block and stopping at each and every house. (Well, except for the house of Old Grouchy Mr. Bushman whom everybody was afraid of.) I can't remember going anywhere but around our own block.
Many of the treats we received in that day were homemade. And we knew what houses had the best treats. Our very first stop of the night would be on the opposite side of the block from where we lived. The lady of that house made the best popcorn balls and if you didn't get there the first part of the evening, they would be gone. I have no idea how many she made but she always ran out of them way before the night was over.
The trick or treating couldn't start until it was dark. (Nowadays, kids in our area are asked to be back home BEFORE dark.) No one was driven around in cars. We all walked and I can still remember what seemed to me to be the strangest sensation of seeing our darkened sidewalks teeming with kids shuffling along in their homemade costumes and clutching bags of goodies. It was the only time there was such a concentrated population of people in the neighborhood after dark.
Well, I'm sure Halloween was simpler during my childhood. Most everything was simpler in the 1950s. It was probably the Golden Age for growing up in America. Things were just basically saner and safer then. Nearly all women were at home practicing the art of homemaking and they were the binding forces that created a strong sense of community in neighborhoods.
I wonder if kids now enjoy all of their parties as much as my generation did when we had but a couple of hours in the evening to go door-to-door in the neighborhood trick or treating?
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