Posted tagged ‘house to house’

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2016

I never understood why the nuns expected us to work and pay attention to lessons on Halloween. We were on a silent countdown to the trick or treat hour when our mothers would let us out so subtraction or English just didn’t matter. The challenge all day was to look interested without caring a whit.

We had chosen our costumes weeks ago. On the walks to and from school, my friends and I discussed the possibilities. The costumes would be homemade, and in those days they weren’t too sophisticated. We thought about being ghosts, but that was just too easy. A hobo was okay. We’d use make-up for a beard and carry a stick with a bucket at the end for our candy. Our mothers could sew patches on the pants and shirts. A scarecrow mostly just needed make-up and straw. With a few curlers and a robe, we could be our mothers or grandmothers. Paint a couple of pieces of cardboard, wear one in front and the other on the back, and you’re an ace or a two. Costumes just took imagination.

My mother would buy us masks, if we needed them, and trick or treat bags. Sometimes, though, we’d use pillow cases as bags hoping for a big haul. Halloween day was almost as long as Christmas Eve. We’d get dressed early and beg my mother to let us out. We’d keep watch hoping to see a trick or treater as proof it was time. Finally, my mother would let us out. We’d do the neighborhood first. It took a while as the neighbors oohed and ahhed and guessed who we were, as if it were difficult. After that, my brother and I would do the town. The 5 cent bar houses were our first stops. We hated the apple houses except the ones which put pennies or a nickle in their apples. I was never fond of candy corn or popcorn balls. We’d wander the town until the outside lights went dark. On the way home we’d go through our bags and eat a favorite candy bar or two. When we got home, my mother would give us each a big bowl for our candy. We’d sit on the floor and trade.

We could stay up late because the next day was a Holy Day, and we didn’t have school. We did have to go to church, but it was worth it to have the whole day.

“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.”

October 31, 2015

Every kid’s calendar had only three days circled. The biggest and the best day of all was Christmas. Weeks of anticipation, making and changing lists for Santa and decorating the house and tree helped to make the time pass, but it passed ever so slowly, especially Christmas Eve. The second best day was Halloween. What will I be this year was the most important question and a topic of great discussion walking to and from school. The third circled day was our birthdays. They didn’t need any preparation and were anticipated but not with the same level of excitement as the other two days. My birthday came with a present, a few cards, always one with two dollars from my grandmother, and a cake. Blow out the candles, eat cake, open presents, and it’s over for another year. Christmas and Halloween seemed to last days. They had a before and an after.

Going to school on Halloween always seemed wrong somehow. We fidgeted and clock watched the whole day. I doubt we learned anything as our minds and imaginations were filled with costumes and candy. Arithmetic had no chance.

I remember the afternoon lasted nearly forever, not as long as Christmas Eve but a close second. We’d eat dinner then pester my mother to let us leave. She always said it was too early. We kept watch at the window hoping to see a treat or treater so we could prove my mother wrong. Finally we’d get to leave.

First we did the neighborhood then the side streets near the house. I have memories of leaves blowing, street lights shining on the sidewalks, walking all over town and eating as we walked. When house lights finally started going out and few trick or treaters were still around, we’d head home stopping now and then at a lit house.

Once home, we’d empty our bags into big bowls and do a bit of trading. We’d throw away the popcorn balls. My mother took the apples. They’d get eaten at another time. We’d eat a few more bars of candy then the bowls had to be put away. Though the evening was officially over, the candy lasted for days.