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Halloween Always a ‘Total Kid Holiday’
Mister Calendar has turned another page and we now find ourselves careening headlong toward Halloween, or, as I have seen it called, the Halloween Season, which reflects the All-American notion that says you should never limit to one day what you can expand to 30.
I like Halloween. I really do. We’re talking a nearly unlimited supply of fun-size Milky Way bars. What’s not to like?
I’m not sure, however, that Halloween as it is practiced today is an improvement over the Halloweens of the Golden Age of Kidhood, the 1950s and 1960s.
It was a Total Kid Holiday then, maybe the only one on the calendar. Christmas and the Fourth of July were good, but you had to share them with grown-ups. Halloween, however, was all about kids, or to be more specific, kids, costumes and loot.
Over the years this changed. Halloween is now one of the biggest adult party night of the year, and a particularly debauched one at that. It’s getting so you can hardly hear the kids yelling “Trick or treat!” over the clanking of the liquor bottles.
But back in the day (as we hipsters like to say, although you notice we never specify which day we’re talking about) it was all about gangs of costumed kids roaming from house to house and extorting candy from the neighbors, and more.
Remember, this was back in the days before the great Poison Snickers/Razor Blades In The Apples panic, so the bounty might just as well include homemade cookies, fresh peanut brittle and caramel apples, and (my favorite) popcorn balls. Wow. It’s been at least 40 years since I had a good popcorn ball. Where has the time gone? And why did it take the popcorn balls with it?
A good night’s take would fill a grocery bag and would contain examples of every item on your dentist’s most-hated list: The entire product lines of the Hershey, Mars, Hollywood, Peter Paul and Nestle companies; Tootsie Rolls in all sizes; taffy, Bonono Turkish and otherwise; licorice and lollypops, caramels and Cracker Jack, bubble gum cigars and candy cigarettes. Properly hoarded and rationed, a good Halloween haul could carry you past Thanksgiving and right to the time the Christmas candy began to turn up.
And then there were costumes. Costumes were actually kind of problematic for me. As Mom lectured to us every Halloween, we weren’t one of those rich families that could afford to buy those Ben Cooper or Collegeville costumes-in-boxes every year. Mom made our costumes instead, insisting that a hand-sewn Batman suit was superior to some flimsy thing in a box that would be shreds before the night was over. Obviously, Mom did not know a thing about Halloween costumes.
We also handed down our costumes. My first time trick-or-treating I had to wear my big sister’s old witch costume. With a skirt. I was so embarrassed I refused to lift my mask or even speak, lest anyone find out who I was. My sister took care of it, though, by informing one and all that her brother – a boy -- was wearing a girl costume.
I accidentally got even with her, though. I peed my pants and she had to take me home early. She was furious.
For that reason I still count it among the better Halloweens of my life.
© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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