Monday, November 01, 2010

Did Texas Lead the Way?

Hallowe'en was different when I was a kid. For one thing, it wasn't Halloween. I don't know when the apostrophe disappeared, but I know it was after I got out of the public schools. I learned to put the apostrophe in, but now the spellchecker doesn't like it.

But I digress. What I meant to talk about was what kids did when I was one of them. Life then was more like a Peanuts comic strip. You know the ones, where the kids are out roaming the streets, trick-or-treating with their paper bags and not an adult in sight. About sundown, off we'd go. The most elaborate costume I remember wearing is a Lone Ranger mask. I thought those were cool. A couple of friends and I would walk all over town, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells, and it was all great fun. When we'd gotten enough candy, we'd go to the community Hallowe'en carnival and try our luck at bingo or the cakewalk. When the booths started to shut down, we'd walk home.

Nobody worried that the candy we'd scored would poison us. Nobody worried that we'd be stolen off the streets and assaulted or killed. I'm not sure anybody was ever poisoned by Hallowe'en candy except for one kid in Texas, and he was poisoned by his own father, who wanted to collect the insurance money. Aside from that one incident, Hallowe'en candy's pretty safe as far as I know. Maybe it's all that guy's fault that things have changed. The assaults and the murders might be happening, but I lived in a small town, and that kind of thing never happened in the old days. Maybe it does now.

I still remember those October nights and how much fun they were. I guess kids still have fun, just not the way we used to do. I'm fine with that, as long as they keep off my lawn.

12 comments:

Randy Johnson said...

My Halloweens were similar to yours. Kids roamed the streets and had a lot of fun. We might turn over the occasional lawn furniture, that's all. and no one seemed to mind.

I don't remember the apostrophe though.

Jerry House said...

I, too, was a small town kid, and more of a heckraiser than a hellraiser. We'd trip the rails to set of the railroad signals, sneak into the local church for some midnight bell ringing, and toss some old telephone poles to block a private road the police regularly patrolled. We never caused any damage and wouldn't ever think to egg or TP a house, but we had fun and thought we were oh so cool.

I have it on good authority that my father (in the late 20s) once tipped over an outhouse, not knowing that it was in use at the time. He never admitted it to me.

Unlike Randy, I clearly remember the apostrophe. I'm old.

Jerry House said...

set off, not set of!

Stupid computer. Stupid fingers.

Anonymous said...

I remember the apostrophe. Agatha Christie had one in Hallowe'en Party, didn't she?

I remember going as Zorro on Halloween (however you spell it). There were houses we avoided (well, one apartment - before we moved to Brooklyn we lived in an apartment building in Queens) but for the most part New York in those days was not unlike Texas.

Face it, we're geezers.

Jeff

Gerard said...

Boy #2, "I have to go potty."
Run home up the street. Boy uses toilet. Wait five minutes for Boy to put his jacket on and get his sleeves juuust right then put his gloves on juuust right then go back out.

David Jack Bell said...

I grew up in the city--Cincinnati, Ohio. Not NY or LA but still a big city. We roamed all over the neighborhoods where we lived without adult supervision. That was the thrill of Halloween--it was a holiday without our parents. I see a lot of kids getting driven around in cars. What's the point?

AFare24Get said...

I remember Halloween being a night where the older people in the neighborhood made snacks like mad: caramel popcorn balls, candied apples, rice krispie treats, homemade cookies & brownies, and kettle corn. God and the costumes: either a sheet (for a ghost) or something you could buy like a plastic mask from the Don Post collection at Woolworth's. Those were amazing times.

Michael E. Stamm said...

I spent the ages of 8 through 17 in the suburbs of Indianapolis and Altoona, respectively, and the Hallowe'ens of that part of my life were very much like yours. No danger, lots of delicious chills, and a lot of simple joy. I don't quite remember the apostrophe, but I adopted it for myself at least a decade ago and plan to keep it. Just right-click on that spelling and click Add to Dictionary and your spell-checker will leave you alone...

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I don't remember an apostrophe except when people used the archaic spelling. In Virginia, we did things much as you did in Texas, but there was no community center to visit once the candy demands were met. We'd go home and check the loot. I was always glad to get coins, too. On a good night I could get as much as 30 cents in pennies, nickels, and the rare dime. I gace the apples to my mother and usually threw the popcorn balls away. And no matter what Mark Evanier says, I loved candy corn.

Anonymous said...

Ditto your Halloween description in Pecos, TX back in the good ole days!

James Reasoner said...

It was the same for me in the small town where I lived (and still live). We mostly confined our trick-or-treating to the street where I lived, which went in a circle and didn't have any through traffic. I remember a homemade ghost costume much like Charlie Brown's. Great fun, something to look forward to all year.

And I still use the apostrophe.

Deb said...

A few years ago, I opened the door to trick-or-treaters and there stood a little boy, about three years old, "dressed" (if that's the right word) as a miniature Chippendales dancer. The parents seemed to think that this was hilarious, but the kid (shirtless--on an October night--with the bow-tie, black pants, and white belt) looked absolutely miserable.

In about 20 years, he should be sharing that story with his therapist.