Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Much Simpler Time

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?


  1. I agree. Halloween is just not the same. A few bad people and a lot of adults have taken the fun out of the day. Just read in the paper today some people wanted to move Halloween to a different day cause it fell on a Sunday. So tired of the all the people who take a fun event and remove all the fun out of it. I feel so bad for young people growing up today - they will never know of the freedom to just enjoy things.

  2. Agreed! Even in the 70's and early 80's when I was out Halloween was just as you described it, and I have never had a store bought costume. Even now if hubby and dress up we would never get a "costume" ready to go! I am proud to say I have never bought my kids a costume, either - I think it's just wrong on so many levels, and where is the fun in that? I remember being a ghost, witch (still am LOL), a hobo, even an old lady one time when I raided granny's closet! I remember her having a sense of humor in it and rolling down my panty hose around my calves LOL! I even remember having to cover it all up with a jacket the few times it snowed! I do love Halloween parties, but our version is that friends gather at their house, take the kids around the block quickly, then we hang out in the driveway handing out candy and the grownups have fun dressing up and watching the kids play. Now you got me started again! I still feel it could be the same as it was "back in the day" if only the grownups would take a more active role ensuring their safety by accompanying them we could still enjoy things as they used to be. Just saw that Chicken Mama said y'all are butchering some of the flock today? That made me chuckle, it being Halloween and all! Also that you are fighting a bug? Hope you feel better, get some rest and eat some of your soup!

  3. I suppose the kids nowadays think their celebrations are good, simply because they don't know how things were. They probably look on our memories as boring. But, having lived through the time that I did-and seeing how stuff is NOW, I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything. Every thing is for their safety now (as it should be, considering what Pervs and Weirdo's are out there now). Eeesh, what a life. Worry worry. No thanks. I vote for OUR past!

    Also, if you're not feeling good, sorry-hope you are taking it a bit easy!

  4. We never had any big 'get up' either. Erin and I came from the same time frame and I can only recall my parents buying us a Planet of the Apes mask with the elastic on the back and then we dressed in old clothes. And yup, who wasn't a hobo a time or two growing up? We did trick or treat at night! Where's the fun during the day?? As we got older, things started to change. People got sick from candy, objects in the candy and you were never EVER supposed to eat anything handmade. We brought treats to school that Mom made however. But I don't even think they can do that anymore! Somedays, I am glad we couldn't have kids because I am not sure any of mine would have ever fit in. If only we could turn back the clock to when things were simple and people were good.

  5. Even the candy is different now. Candy used to be made in THIS county and it was made with real ingredients. Now it's full of wax and preservatives and even Hershey is not making any of it's candy in PA or the USA anymore. The last processing plant was moved to Mexico a few years ago. So sad.

  6. The kids can't miss what they never knew, but I miss it for them.

    I was a gypsy many years because we had a great peasant style dress left over from my mom's hippie days :) I remember complaining to my mom one time that she used to make my sister's costumes for her when she was really little but not for me. She told me that she thought she was giving me a treat by buying my costumes - she made my sister's because they were poor! LOL

    We did our trick-or-treating in a very organized fashion on Sat night because there is always trouble in my neighborhood on Halloween - the Embassy actually issued an alert! I can see why now because there is practically a teenage riot going on out there right now. More on my blog tomorrow!

  7. So, you and I must be close to the same age as I could have written your blog today. And I even have a brother! We never would have even thought of buying a costume and didn't for our kids either. I remember trying to get a nickel using only my mouth out of an apple hanging from a string at a neighbors house on Halloween. Couldn't do that now. Ah the good old days ..... well, maybe everything wasn't as good as some things are today but certainly the safer simpler time was easier to live with.

  8. Yup, I also agree. And I miss the popcorn balls....

  9. Halloween really is scary now! I'm 63 and I also remember when ... door to door all around the neighborhood, comparing goodies with my girl friends, and being allowed to eat it all. In some cities now, parents are being told to take the dandy to the nearest hospital to be x-rayed for foreign objects! Sheesh!!! and to look for chocolate pieces that look to have been pierced with a needle. All I can say is "What has this world come to.'

    Sue is right, kids now would call our time boring, but we have our memories and no one can take them away.

    Feel better Mama Pea.

  10. Boy, did you hit a heartstring on this post. We must have had parallel Halloweens - I never had a purchased costume, and I remember being so disappointed when my mom decided to wash off the cork "beard". I wanted to wear it to school! We had a Mr. Bushman, too. But it was a crazy old lady of whom we were all terrified. We went in groups with one volunteer parent and got so excited (and hot and sweaty - depending on which costume we were wearing) going door to door. It was one big, thrilling blitz. It was also the only time we had candy - except for jelly beans at Easter. It was a wonderful time and I miss it. I guess we should just be happy that we have that time to remember. It was a golden, and magical time.

  11. I agree. Something has changed along the way. Things were so innocent back then. Then they started finding razor blades in candy and it went downhill from there.

    Seems to me Halloween was just for kids when we were kids. Now everyone wants to "celebrate" but the type of celebrating seems so destructive. It's all pretty sad, really. I never can understand why some folks just want to drag all the good things down.

  12. Hi, Y'all - Even though times have changed, this is the only time we have to live in so if there's anything we can do to make it better (and I think a lot of us are doing just that) that's the important thing.

    I felt much better today. Good enough to jump into the goose butchering. (I'm not very bright, I could have milked my "me not feel good" for one more day!) I think I've had some sort of a low grade infection; one ear is plugged, one eye is bloodshot and weeping, sinus headache, pain across my shoulder blades. (Whadda wreck!) But I'm ornerier than any bug so I shall overcome. Thanks for the well wishes, ladies!

  13. Shoulda milked it some more! Sounds like you need some good R&R! None of that sounds like a party going on up there! Keep warm and hope you feel better!

  14. For the most part my kids still do homemade costumes from whatever they can find around the house. My son did get a store bought mask this year, but we made the rest of his scary costume from a plastic tablecloth and a hoodie lol.

    I dislike the amount of candy they get, seems a waste to me, but what do I know, I'm just a mom lol

  15. We still go door to door with the kids, but we drive down the street about a 1/2 mile and park in a nice subdivision that has lots of kids. Quite a few houses are all decked out with lights, music, and spooky beings.

    When I was growing up in WI (in the 70's/80's) I remember trick-or-treating during the day. They must have always moved the holiday to a weekend?!? Maybe it was also done with evening temperatures in mind (in addition to safety)??

    Everything is so overly commercialized today, luckily my kids are not so infuenced by all of that though. I have never made a costume, unless you count gathering up bits and pieces already on hand. We recycle lots of the dress-up gear into costumes for Halloween. This year my daughter was a monarch butterfly, we found big gorgeous wings at a zoo this summer and had to buy them w/trick-or-treating in mind. (My little guy was a fireman, and he enjoyed showing folks that his extinguisher shoots water, lol.)

  16. APG - Thanks, I feel even better morning. It is still morning, isn't it? I slept in til almost 8:30!

    Stephanie and Kelly - Sounds as if both of you are making Halloween the best you can for your kids. Enjoy these years as once the kids are gone from home, Halloween seems a lot different! (Sure wish all candy wasn't such JUNK these days though. It's hard to let the kids have so much of it on this one occasion when you know it doesn't even have good ingredients!)

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