I’m not sure if Halloween is purely an American holiday, but we Americans sure go all out for it every year. It’s been reported we spend as much on Halloween decorations as we do Christmas ones. I’m not sure about that because I have never gone out driving to see the Halloween lights, but if “they” say so, it must be so.
I loved Halloween when I was a kid. We lived in a tiny town of about 400 people and everyone knew everyone else or was related to them or knew some of their relations. I knew the grandparents, cousins and aunt and uncle of my husband long before I met him because he was an “out of towner.” So, when you went trick or treating, you knew every one in every house you visited.
I don’t remember any of my Halloween costumes except one. My mother made me a white rabbit suit one year with long ears and a furry tail. It was so hot to wear, but I loved that thing. I was probably a first or second grader at the time and our class paraded around the school in our costumes, going into each classroom. Now my school had grades one through twelve in one building. I had older brothers and a sister in the school at the time so we visited their classrooms. I remember going in one room and suddenly one of the older boys was laughing and pointing at me. I wondered what was so funny until someone told me my flap was down. There was a flap on the backside of the costume so I could well, use the bathroom should I need to, and evidently I had not refastened it. I was so embarrassed. I walked out of the room backward.
In other years I am sure my mother bought those hot fabric masks they use to sell in the five and dime stores and I would find some old clothes of some kind to wear and my brothers would take me trick or treating. I remember wearing those masks and sweating and the more I breathed in and out, the sweatier I got. Those masks sell for high prices in antique stores now.
Since everyone knew each other, at each house the person handing out the treats would try to guess who we were before they would give us any candy. It was a long drawn out affair with names being guessed and I could only shake my head so as not to give myself away. Finally they would guess who I was and put a candy bar in my bag. Back then we got the big size candy bars, not the tiny ones handed out now. I was taught to say “thank you,” and then we would proceed to the next house. Being a country girl, it was so much fun to be in the “big” city going door to door and seeing all the people I knew.
When we had visited about every house in town we would go back home and mother would put a sheet on the floor and we would dump our bags onto it one at a time. For some reason my brothers always seemed to have more candy than I did. They would have these big piles while my little pile looked puny in comparison. But still, there was a lot of candy and we got to eat some before we went to bed and then mother would put it up and dole it out a little at a time.
When my children use to go trick or treating they would bring their bags home and dump it all out. I would always look for the Snickers bars and when the candy was put away, the Snickers bars would mysteriously disappear from the candy stash. My children are old enough now I can tell them my deep, dark secret. But they very rarely got to eat any of the Snickers bars they got in their trick or treat bags. I don’t think they really cared because they didn’t like Snickers or at least that’s what I tell myself!
When I got older and thought I was too old to trick or treat I wanted to go out tricking like some of the older kids would do. You could always tell it was Halloween in our town because all the windows of every business had been soaped. I don’t think that’s done much anymore and would probably get kids in trouble now, but back then it was a rite of passage. Soaping was taking a bar of soap and writing or scribbling something on windows. So one year my very best friend, Mary Jean, and I decided we would soap windows. We were both terrified of getting caught so we didn’t soap many windows, but we did throw shelled corn on people’s porches and thought we were sooo bad! But it was harmless fun and the adults in our town knew to expect it and put up with it for one night of the year. There was some outhouse tipping that was not funny and my brothers told of some cow tipping although I think that was just a myth that came out every Halloween.
Back in the day my brothers use to tell me there were these two men who lived in our barn. They would tell me they heard them talking and would scare me so much. I didn’t now why my daddy would permit two men to live in our barn. I think that was another myth my brothers told just to scare their little sister. At least I hope so.
My daddy worked nights in those days and we kids and our mother would sit up waiting for him to come home. One Halloween we were sitting outside looking at the moon and my mother said she saw a witch fly across the moon. My mother could tell a story and make me believe it no matter what it was about. I just knew she had seen a witch fly across the moon. She saw a UFO once(or so she said) and I was forever looking up in the sky for a UFO. Those were such fun times though and I remember them with such fondness.
So now I watch as my grandchildren celebrate Halloween by dressing up and collecting candy. My grandsons go trick or treating two or three times and don’t usually know most of the people who give them candy. My one grandson dressed up like the headless horseman this year.
Speaking of the headless horseman. We always watched Disney’s cartoon version which was usually shown right around Halloween. It would always scare me to death. Poor Ichabod Crane. No one ever knew what became of him. So when I learned that Conner Prairie, an 1836 reproduction village north of Indianapolis had headless horseman hayrides, I just had to go. My older grandchildren and their mother go every year. First you walk around Conner Prairie where they have puppet shows, crafts and food booths and a story teller and then when it’s your turn you get on a big wagon with several other happy people and ride back in the woods. Slowly your horses clop along. You sit there in anticipation. Suddenly, there he is, the headless horseman coming behind the wagon on a big, black horse, his cape flying, his head gone and he is galloping faster and faster. He is laughing this awful laugh as he comes closer and closer and suddenly he is right beside the wagon and you can feel the horse’s breath right on you if you are sitting in the back, which I was, and you scream your head off until he finally gallops away. So much fun!!!
They say Halloween is a pagan holiday. It may be for some. For me it’s all about fun. As long a no one gets hurt or too scared it’s a holiday I hope we continue to celebrate. I don’t go for the gory or bloody or murderous Halloween. I go for more the Casper the Friendly Ghost kind of Halloween. The candy filled Halloween. The cute costumes Halloween. The slightly scary Halloween. Happy Halloween! Bye.