Wednesday, October 12, 2011


When I was a child, I celebrated Halloween a bit differently than most children now days. Hope this brings back some memories for you.

A Different Kind of Halloween

Can you imagine Halloween without Trick-or-Treating? When I was a girl growing up in a rural area about sixty years ago, Trick-or-Treating wasn’t part of Halloween for me or my friends. That doesn’t mean we felt left out of that holiday celebration. On the contrary, we spent weeks preparing for it in the one-room country school I attended.
About a month before October 31, the boys and girls in the upper grades began to plan - seriously and secretly. Decorations had to be designed; food had to be solicited from moms, and disgusting tricks had to be arranged to horrify the littlest children. Getting to be big enough to be part of that delightful, secret planning was a major goal of my first years in school.
About a week before Halloween Day, the basement of our school building became off limits for anyone not in on the preparations. Corn shocks from the field beside our playground were hauled down and set around the room. Considering the basement housed a coal-burning furnace, that was certainly a scary idea. It amazes me now that the school board wasn’t worried enough about fire to forbid the corn shocks, but they never did. The carved pumpkins with real candles burning inside didn’t seem to bother them either. Apparently, they trusted us to be careful.
Black and orange crepe paper streamers festooned the entire ceiling downstairs. Pictures of Jack-o-lanterns, witches, ghosts and bats which the little children colored were taped to the walls. The windows were covered over with paper so the room would be suitably dark and spooky.
Our teacher allowed us to have an entire afternoon for the party. Part of that time was needed for donning our costumes. For weeks, we had planned just what we would be. Our parents couldn’t afford store bought costumes, so we had to make them ourselves using whatever we could find. We usually spent part of our meager allowances on masks since homemade masks didn’t hold up very well.
Games included blindfolding the little children and making them feel eyeballs (grapes), intestines (cooked spaghetti), and other gross items. We always had a big galvanized tub of water to bob for apples, an activity I hated. Maybe that’s because I never could get an apple.
The last event of the afternoon was the lunch provided by some of the moms. We stuffed ourselves on orange-frosted cupcakes and cookies, orange drinks, candy corn, and popcorn balls.
I suppose we’d heard about Trick-or-Treating in those days, but, after our half-day party at school, we were satisfied that we’d celebrated Halloween about as well as it could be celebrated. My memories of those special days bring back feelings of joy even though I still prefer getting my apples from my tree or the store.