Halloween is coming. I know because a couple of my neighbors have put up decorations. Incidentally, I live in a gated community so the “community at large” who might be driving to see decorations will not have an opportunity to see our decorations. We’re very private (except for guests, landscapers, delivery trucks, the mailman, garbage trucks, street sweepers, the company that fixes the gates, medical helpers, handymen and moving vans). So for wider viewing, I took the pictures accompanying this story.
Thinking back to my childhood (a long time ago), Halloween was fun. A bunch of us kids would don five-and-dime masks and maybe costumes made from old clothes. We’d scour the neighborhood giggling and saying, “trick or treat.” I don’t remember parents being with us. I do remember that in our “candy bag” we’d be given a lot of home-made cookies as well as some packaged candy. When we got home, parents would look at the loot, taste a few of the homemade cookies and give us a schedule as to when we could consume the rest of the cookies and candy.
One neighbor stands out. He was a grumpy kind of guy. On Halloween, he would put a basket of apples on his front lawn with a sign that said, “Take one and leave some for others.” Of course, we wouldn’t take even one. Halloween wasn’t for apples–it was for sweets!
Sometimes, for older kids–Halloween was also a time for “TP-ing” the homes of popular girls. TP (toilet paper) would be hurled into trees and onto bushes, and sometimes the police were called. Brother Hugh was in a car with a bunch of boys “TP-ing.” The police came and arrested everyone. My father had to go to the police station and take him home. Hugh told Dad he didn’t do the deed; he stayed in the car while the other guys unfurled the toilet paper. My father said, “If that ever happens again, you get out of the car and run home!” (Good advice for more serious ventures…)
We did have a haunted house in our neighborhood and kids would get close, but never go in. Haunting movies were popular, too, and I saw a couple of them.
Time has passed….and Halloween has changed.
Kids going trick or treating should have an adult with them because children can be targets of all sorts of things we’d never heard of as kids. Candy must be in secure packages so bad stuff isn’t baked in. Beautiful costumes now rule the day–particularly for adults (and some pets) who love Halloween parties. Me? I only have a selection of wigs–I go as a younger me.
But when I think of Halloween, I also think of one disaster when my father encouraged me to go to Avery School’s Halloween dress-up day dressed as a Shmoo. Never heard of a Shmoo? According to Wikipedia, “The Shmoo is a fictional cartoon creature created by Al Capp (1909–1979); the character first appeared in the comic strip Li’l Abner on August 31, 1948.” What did a Shmoo look like? A kind of ghost figure covered in white from head to toe with a very round belly.
Dad decided that if I hung a tire from my shoulders and then wore a head to toe sheet, that would be enough to look like a shmoo. I walked to school in those days, so tire in place I started out. I do not have broad shoulders and before long the rope on one shoulder started to slip and the tire fell and I was holding the tire most of the way to school. In school, the costume worked no better and a lot of the kids got a laugh out of my struggle. I was miserable all day, but damn it, I never forgot that costume.
Now I’m in Las Vegas and I just saw an ad from a casino offering 10 times points when gambling on Halloween Day (no costume necessary) and I saw a large ad for old folks in Lake Las Vegas featuring a golf cart parade, carnival games, free candy, a concert and a costume contest. The parade starts at 7 p.n.; the winner is announced at 8 p.m. The most lively of the old folks can stay until 9 p.m.
And to avoid being otherwise scared this Halloween? Just turn off the news.