“Remember When Halloween Edition”
It was the night that every kid waited for. It required careful planning of what you would be for Halloween. What cartoon character, animal, or hero/heroine would you be? It seemed like it was forever for the school day to end. You tried to accumulate as much candy as your bag or pillowcase could hold. You went to every house that had a porch light on or a jack o lantern lit up. You must have climbed up and down one thousand steps by the end of the night. The houses that gave you money or your favorite candy you visited more than once. Pennies were nice, nickels were better and dimes were gold mines!
You recited short poems or memorized verses to say in addition to the traditional “trick or treat” greeting. I remember one that said, “Halloween is coming, the goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you have no penny, a dime will do, but if you have no dime, then God Bless you!” My favorite was “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something sweet to eat, because I haven’t washed them for a week!”
A lot of kids couldn’t afford fancy or expensive costumes so their parents or kids made their own. It was easy to be a hobo/bum, a ghost, cowboy, or Indian. If you were lucky and was invited to a party or belonged to Scouts (I sure did) we always had a Halloween Party on the day of Den Meetings or the night of Scout Meetings. That almost always meant Halloween cupcakes would make an appearance and there was nothing like those chocolate cupcakes with orange frosting with sprinkles, candy corn, or candied pumpkins on top.
I remember having a bar of soap (Ivory of course because it was cheap and large) although we only got a small piece of it, we would soap the windows of businesses on East 79th Street. We would draw pictures, write our names, or just make wild marks. We never did any true acts of vandalism though. The merchants easily washed off their windows with plain water the next morning.
How about “Beggar’s Night”? We would have a few callers, but my mother never budged. She always told them to come back the next night. We never could find out where she hid the candy and you would see it until right before dusk.
Your worst nightmare was rain on Halloween Night. What a mean curse to have your “fun night shortened” or curtailed because of rain. The cold nights were bad enough, but you could always wear your winter coat over your costume and keep on trucking. The rain however, made leaves on the street, sidewalks and steps slick.
How old could you be and still get away with trick or treating? I think for me it was 13. Seems like once puberty hit you had other things on your mind, or people would ask “Aren’t you too old to be trick or treating?” You would trick or treat from dusk until maybe 8:00pm. Blessed were the days when Halloween fell on a Friday or Saturday, which meant no school the next day. You could keep on enjoying that candy the very next morning and all day long. Trading candy with your brothers or sisters was fun and quite the bonus if your favorite wasn’t theirs and vice versa. You bartered like a Wall Street Trader!
No one tried to poison us, molest us, or put us in harm’s way. We knew just about everyone in the neighborhood by name and face. If someone’s porch light was off, it merely meant stay away and don’t bother us. There were no gangs, drugs or danger lurking on our special night. Parents accompanied their smaller children. We were safe and innocent and so were those times.