Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Stop me if you've heard this one. I don't think I've talked about it before, but the older I get, the less sure I am that I'm not repeating myself.

When I was little, the family belonged to the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation. Neither of my parents attended -my mother because of her deafness, my father I think because the minister actually told us things we should do and my father was not a man who ever wanted to be told anything. (Well, that's my personal opinion, and he isn't here to defend himself, so I don't suppose I should express it. But I just did, didn't I?) My sister taught Sunday School. My brother was Crucifer in the procession every Sunday. I, of course, went to Sunday School. I loved Sunday School, chiefly because the teacher had a piano. It also meant that I got to attend the Halloween party ev
ery year. That was something special! It included a parade all around the hall, when everyone was judged for best costume, funniest costume, scariest costume, and on and on. I think just about everyone got a small prize for something. Then we played games and bobbed for apples, and stuffed our little faces with goodies. It was great! Mr. Spencer was the Superintendent. It was his job to judge and distribute the prizes and to keep the boys from pushing people's heads under water while we were doing the bobbing and from dropping fake spiders down people's necks.

Carving the Jack-o-Lantern was a very big deal. We'd spread newspaper, and Daddy would get the Big Knife, and after we'd decided what kind of face
he should have, we'd draw it with pencil on the pumpkin. Then Daddy would do the carving. It was the one time he'd really get into the spirit of things. He liked Halloween. Once it was done, we'd roast the seeds.

The night before Halloween was Mischief Night. I don't remember hearing of any really bad mischief being done. For my part, my father took me to some neighbors' houses, where I threw dried corn against their windows and then hid to see them come out lo
oking for whatever that noise could be. Once or twice I even went to the extent of ringing a doorbell and then running to hide to see the same result. The neighbors were very good about making a big show of being puzzled or upset about it.

Halloween itself was magic. I got to go out in the dark! We never had store bought costumes, but spent hours putting together something wonderful to wear. The only mask I ever wore was a little black one over my eyes. We were only allowed to go to homes on our block. Many of the houses had enclosed front porches, and the women would sit there with a table full of home made treats. Sometimes the popcorn balls and cookies and fudge would still be warm. The grown ups would always make a big fuss about trying to guess who it could be behind the mask. It was often wet out, and my mother would make me wear rubbers. One neighbor, Mr. Magee, would spoil it by saying, "Oh I know who that is. I can tell by her gum shoes." His wife would scold him for it. I didn't really mind. The Magees were such wonderful people - and they had such great treats! They had no children themselves, and always found ways for us to make money. They paid a nickle a jar for Japanese beetles if we collected them from their rose garden! And they would send us to the grocery store and pay us a nickle or a dime. - Anyway, by the time we got all the way up one side of the street and down the other on Halloween night, we would go home with a shopping bag full of wonderful things, and go to bed very, very happy.

Our current crop of kids will never know that kind of unsophisticated pleasure, wil
l they? Sad. But I suppose each new generation of children will find their own particular pleasures. They won't miss what they never had. It is we who miss it for them. Isaac will certainly have a big Jack-o-Lantern, and I'm sure he and his friends will celebrate in their own way.




Anonymous said...

Bobbie - You've made me actually think pretty positively about Halloween for once! This all sounds lovely. The problem I have with Halloween is that the UK seems to have imported all the more recent American traditions. Over the past few years there has been a massive rise in 'trick or treating', which was unknown when I was a kid. Also, all the kids seem to have to have the shop bought fancy clothes rather than making them for themselves. There is also the horrible malicious side to it - lots of the older kids feel the need to throw eggs and flower at people's houses or do even worse 'tricks'. I think it's really great for the little ones, though, as long as people have fun and keep it fun. Shame we don't appear to recall any traditions of our own. Another step in the total Americanisation of the world?

It's funny how your church encouraged Halloween fun (which personally I think is fine). There are churches here where they think that if you celebrate Halloween you should be burnt and sent downstairs!

Webradio said...

Beaucoup de travail !
Nice post, and the young girl has a beautiful smile...

Hey Harriet said...

I enjoyed reading about your wonderful memories of halloween. I wish halloween was celebrated in my country. I feel as though I'm missing out on a lot of fun!

Isaac is such a little cutie :)

kenju said...

That was a good memory to have, Bobbie. I have only vague memories of going to a party or two when I was young. I do remember bobbing for apples and wondering why....LOL I'd have rather bobbed for something else - like candy.

Anonymous said...

Great to read your Halloween memories, and also the comment from singing bear. I'm of the generation that had good times, before the 'tricks' became horrible. In fact, my hometown, Detroit, invented Devil's Night, although for a number of years they've had a program called Angel's Night, which is kind of a neighborhood watch to prevent vandalism. I remember getting homemade goodies from one lady on my block. She made some kind of vanilla meringue on saltine crackers. You had to eat it on the spot, it couldn't go into a bag. No one would ever let their kids have something like that today! Oh, and thanks for the heads up about that blog from Mumbai, I'll check it out.

bobbie said...

" Americanisation of the world" Good Lord! That's a terrible thought! Each country of the world has its own wonderful traditions and customs. To lose that would be a real tragedy.

We Americans are so pushy and brash, and are so quick to defend our "right" to whatever is in question, I guess we tend to force our ways on others. And we are so loud that others tend to let us have our way, if only to shut us up. But I hope the day never comes when the whole world throws up its hands and says "OK let's do it your way."

Truthfully, while I love my childhood memories or Halloween, it is definitely not my favorite holiday. I don't mind little scary things, but really hate the macabre. I don't find trying to scare others to death funny at all. And in recent years, so-called Mischief Night or Devil's Night has gone waaay out of hand. We were never permitted to do anything destructive.

Bear Naked said...

Oh yes!
The homemade treats were always the best.
All of us knew which houses had the fudge or the popcorn balls and the neighbour lady who made the REAL candy apples.
And of course all costumes were handmade.
When I was around 12 years old I won best costume one year at a church Halloween party, I was "Autumn."
I hand sewed autumn leaves all over on an orange shirt and black skirt.
Thanks for bringing back the memories of past Halloweens.

Bear((( )))

Judy said...

You are so right Bobbie. Halloween like we knew it was different from today. Last year I probably had 100 trick or treaters and a lot of older kids that looked to be teenagers. I thought it was for the little kids! One guy on our street when I was little gave us pennies every year and we would take off running to the grocery store to spend them the minute we got them. Great post. I really enjoyed reading about your Halloween when you were young. That grandchild is so cute I can't quit looking at his pictures.

Daryl said...

Wonderful ... and Isaac is adorable!


Dianne said...

Isaac is adorable! I love him in the midst of rows and rows of pumpkins

Our mischief was pretty tame too. We used to put on ghoulish make-up and sneak up at back windows and "Boo" people to death. Everyone knew we were coming - you could hear us laughing a mile away.

Apparently the nursery and grammar schools here organized parents to take the kids Trick or Treating. I have been told to expect large groups all at once.

I'm ready :)

me ann my camera said...

In our area children still go out after dark and go 'trick or treating' door to door on Halloween night. Most all of the little ones are accompained by adults, or perhaps their parents are sitting in a car parked on the street waiting. We buy packaged treats and then make up individual bags with four or five different treats in each. We hand out between 110 or 120 bags each year and it is fun to greet all the little ghosts and goblins and pirates and ... No really tires to do any mischief anymore and Halloween is just a fun, giving night.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi! Wonderful Halloween memories. I remember Halloween dinner was always grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup. I don't remember if we ever made our costumes. Probably not. My mom was not crafty.

Isaac is one adorable guy. Lisa said...

Bobbie, what a great post! I love hearing your memories.I remember what a big deal it was the first time I was allowed to go out at night with my big brothers without one of my parents. We only went out for about 5 minutes but it was still exciting!

Casdok said...

Oh yes the Halloween of yesterday - lovely.

Kathie Brown said...

Bobbie, I loved reading about your happy memories from Halloweens past. I, too, think this genereation is really missing out on something special. I, for one, am missing having kids and grandkids about and so did not decorate for halloweeen as ususal. I hope to drive to my son's house tomorrow and spend Halloween with my grandson. It will be his first. Happy Halloween Hugs to you. Heres to homemade treats and costumes!

KG said...

And I grew up in an era when I had to throw away every single home-made treat in favor of prepackaged store-bought stuff. My mom was always afraid there would be poison or razor blades or something else terrible in food like candied apples. Why the neighbor would be doing this, I never really understood ... but anyway, she always made me throw those things away. What a waste!