Friday, October 31, 2008
Halloween 2008 has arrived.
As most kids, when I was a child I lived for Halloween. It was our first authentic costume party; a chance for us to celebrate our imaginations. On this one day you could be whatever you wanted to be - and, like most kids, you spent much of the fall commiserating with your friends as to what costume you would wear.
The olden days of Halloween (i.e. 1970s) were a care-free time. I'd join my friends and we'd hit the streets around 5pm and be out until every house was visited. No one seemed to mind kids wandering the neighborhood alone until 10pm - everyone would return to their bed as usual; the difference being we'd each bring home a pillowcase of candy.
As for that candy, there was no checking - no razor blades or poisons to be found. The only checking I remember doing was to toss out crap I didn't like - as well as to separate the candy from the coins; for some reason wrapped bundles of pennies were still in vogue back then - especially by the 'older lady' contingent.
I remember those hypnotic experiences every late September - stepping into the large Grant department store and seeing row upon row of colorful boxes; each with a window on the front - and peering from the window was the eyeless face of someone (or something) you could be. Box costumes were the rage in the 1960s/1970s - - i'm sure they are still out there, but not nearly as strong as they were back then. Each costume was the same - a cheap plastic gown with sleeves that you wore over your street clothes - and a thin plastic face mask - complete with a rubber band that tangled up in your hair! Once you placed the mask on your face, the smell of chemicals from the mask was overwhelming! Plus you could barely breathe through the tiny holes machine-punched into the nostril locations.
Adjusting the mask so your eyes lined up was a constant challenge and after 10 minutes most kids would just wear the mask on the top of their head, pulling it down upon ringing a doorbell - it was a chore! All this to get candy - what a crock.
That's when we grew up; we would instead hold seances in someone's garage; complete with spooky decorations. Nothing ever came of it, 'cept for a few sleepless nights afterwards.
There are moments when I wish I lived in a neighborhood that still had door-to-door Trick or Treating. You just don't see it in the city much anymore. Community centers or neighborhood parties have replaced that ritual - mostly out of safety and concern.
It's a shame in a way - many of today's kids (those in a city environment especially) are missing out on that experience; traveling through the neighborhood and knocking on every door as a child was my first true taste of independence.