Friday, November 2, 2012

On Halloween

For the second time in all my life, I missed Halloween this year.  The Halloween after mom died, dad and I were just not up to it.  This year, I managed to have a minor car accident the morning of Halloween, and decided that it would just be best if I stayed in and did nothing.

You see, living up here in the mountains in  a rural area, we get no trick or treaters.

Actually, I was not in a Halloween spirit at all this year.  No household decorations except one paper ghost latern I forgot to light on Halloween anyway.  Only special thing I did was use the odd cookie mold/baking pan to make Halloween cornbreads for the three of us.

When I was little, Halloween was a big deal.  My mom used to get these small paper Halloween treat bags, similar to these:

These were filled with treats - standards were rolls of Smarties, Dum-Dum suckers or those suckers with the string handles instead of stick - these still remain my favorites - those horrid peanut butter taffys in the orange or black waxed paper, and some kind of small chocolate bar.  I don't know when they started making those smaller sized Hersey bars and the like, but I know they existed in 1970.  This is what was handed out to every kid who came to our house, and it was the first thing put into our pillowcases as we started out with the admonition that we could eat the candies from that bag, and nothing else as we were out trick or treating.

As an adult, I had the luck to find a huge supply of these bags at a Walmart one day after Halloween sale, each pack of 40 on clearance for only 10 cents a package. I bought a huge number of them; I still have some today. As my kids grew, we carried on the tradition of the treat bag, switching it up by adding tiny toys and Halloween pencils in addition to the traditional candies.  My dad STILL gives out chocolate, cause we know that chocolate is the BEST Halloween candy.  In fact, he came up to visit yesterday, and dropped off a bag of mini chocolates he had left over. (Normally, his neighborhood would have had many children - it was a mild weather year - but because of a horrible event involving a child nearby just a few weeks back, many children did not make the rounds this year.)

My first costumes that I remember were the gypsy and the clown.  The gypsy came out of my mom's closet; a conglomeration of things that made first me, and then later on, my sister a gypsy. Mom had this brightly colored vertical stripes shirt that with a scarf was belted at our waists and the sleeves rolled up several times.  A scarf on the head, and these necklaces of metal "coins" - one fastened to the scarf on our heads, to hang down across our foreheads, and the longer one around our waists.  We liked it, because we jingled!  I remember swirling about, so that everything would jingle.

The clown is a costume that mom made - white with large polka dots, a step into costume that tied at the back, and had a Elizabethan style ruff that tied at the neck and decorated with rick rack.  A pointed hat on an elastic band with the obligatory puff ball at the tip. And then, the makeup.  In the later 60s, early 70s in upstate New York, we didn't just go out one one night, we went out on TWO!  Once on Halloween, and once on Beggar's night, which was November 1st.  So on one night, I was made up as a happy clown, and the other, as a sad clown, with a bright blue glittery tear on my cheek.  I can remember the first time I wore that clown suit- my mom must either have been pregnant or home with my infant sister - can't honestly remember which - and dad took me out.  What I mainly remember was one night, going in the car, and going to my aunt's house, and some of dad's cousins, and being fussed over as the cutest thing ever.

What I remember most about the clown costume was the need for a thick layer of cold cream all over my face to get the base white, the eyeliner and especially the lipstick off my face. It was icky.And then needing a second coat of it to get my face mostly clean!

During my whole childhood, there was only one storebought costume, and that was handed down from a friend of the family.A Fairy costume.  Mom embellished it with glitter, made my wand with reflective tape, and allowed me to wear the coveted tiara.

AS I got older, I would go out with the kids across the street - they had nine kids in their family, the youngest my age.  The older teenaged girls were my babysitters on occasion - but more about them another day. They would take us EVERYWHERE.  Out for hours and hours.  Pillowcases crammed full of candy. My favorite candy giver was the next door neighbor, who would give out full sized candy bars, most often boxes of Sno Caps.  To this day, I still LOVE Sno Caps - luckily, I can find them at Dollar Tree. Awesome candies.  Of course, we had creepy neighbors even then, especially the guy who gave bruised apples with pennies stuck in them.  Mom just threw them away. And while this was still pre "xray your candy" era, mom would dump out our bags, go through the candy, and into the bowl it would go.  The bowl is long gone, but I remember it, a large ceramic mixing bowl, blue on the outside and white on the inside, with a small flower design in one spot on the inside of the bowl.  That bowl most often was used for popcorn when not living on top of the fridge filled with candy.  It lived on top of the fridge because it was much harder for us to get to it, BTW. You'd have to drag a chair across the kitchen, and then climb on top of the counter and stand on tiptoes to reach the bowl.

After the treats were gloated over, and as my sister got older, traded for favorites, we were given a small glass of Coke and a pot pie tin of Cheetos and sat down to watch a Halloween special - most often, The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Yes, a Halloween special actually ON Halloween!  Not for weeks and weeks in advance of the holiday, on the actual day!

My children grew up with homemade costumes as well - a large variety, including the infamous pumpkin costume that got worn many times, including by my sister at one of her kids school Halloween events. Besides that pumpkin were a lady bug, a bunny, a frog, a pirate, a dragon, a medival prince and princess, zombies, vampires, butterfly, batman, and others - I think the kids likely remember better than I do.

Our house was popular - we had thr scary "Pillars of Death" made from cement pillar forms, paint and expand-o-foam and some thin foam masks, a graveyard, ghosts, skeletons, on occasion body parts with labels (nothing like half a cauliflower doing duty as a brain) and the mannequin who did all kinds of Halloween duty over the years. But those are details for another story about Halloween.

But always, always - the paper treat bags, just like when I was little.

Today's egg count - 6.


  1. Sorry to hear about your car accident. Hope you feel better soon. Very nice rememberances of past halloweens.

  2. An accident -- hope you are okay!

    This was a really sweet post! I loved reading about all your Halloween traditions and memories. I remember some of them, too -- my father handed out those ghastly Halloween toffees too, and I remember scraping together costumes from my parents' closet. My first costume was a clown, similar to yours -- we got a lot of mileage out of that one in a family of three girls.