I was over at one of my favorite blogs recently… and the post I was enjoying was about Halloween.
And like a bat out of hello-1960’s… the Halloween memories came from their hiding places like ghosts from their graves.
Halloween was the night of all nights when I was a kid. I lived in New Hampshire when I was old enough to go out with just my friends… no Mom and Dad or Aunt and Uncle or friends’ parents to escort a bunch of kids from door to door.
There were neighborhoods to trick-or-treat in, but there were also acres and acres of fields… tall grass in the moonlight that swished with the presence of specters.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, there were costumes to create. My brothers, my cousin, my friends, my classmates… we designed costumes in our heads, in our words, and then we brought them to life with stuff.
This was the early and mid-1960’s. I don’t remember ever going to a store (never mind a Halloween specialty store) to purchase a costume. A gypsy required one of Mom’s skirts, a sash and a scarf wrapped around my head. A hobo? A long stick with a wrapped sack, a pair of my older brother’s pants, a belt and an old shirt that my Dad let me rip to my delight.
One year, I was a football player… wearing my younger brother’s pads, jersey, helmet. My Dad even pasted a few bandages on my face!
Remember that it was New Hampshire, and the last evening of October is generally rather cold there. Every costume had to have its built-in warmth factor. Mom’s instructions. So under the skirts or ripped shirts or football jerseys were thermal underwear, leggings and the like.
Yep. Then we could stay out longer and wander farther.
There wasn’t an inkling of worry about too much sugar, razor blades in apples, tainted candy or big kids stealing our stuff.
No. We gathered in big groups and set out for the night of our lives (and oh the parental trouble we would have met if we dared separate from our group). And our parents gave us pillow cases in which to collect our loot.
We knew that the family in the old home on the corner let us stick our hands in their giant cauldron and take as much as we wanted. Score!
We knew that the older woman next to the little convenience store gave Hershey’s chocolate bars. Double score!
Heck… even the convenience store (where us kids always rode our bikes to get our candy) gave out candy. Triple score!
We never meandered. We were rather methodical as I remember. Down Grandview Terrace where the houses were neighborhood-ish and where my Aunt Jean and Uncle Ed lived. Around the cul-de-sac and up to Post Road where the ghoulish world of candy was at our fingertips and often on our lips.
Left. Right. Both ways. Along the winding roads. Up hills. Down hills. Past those fields where the tall grass in the moonlight swished with the presence of specters. Back into neighborhoods with lights and pumpkins and disguised faces of school friends whose voices we recognized, our pillow cases laden with sugared loot.
And if we returned home that way, we dared each other to run through the cemetery where the inhabitants were certainly waiting for us on that night.
I don’t think I ever ran more than one row of headstones in…
When I was a kid, Halloween was a night of frighteningly fun innocence. A night of wild imagination and creativity. A night of scary stories as we walked along… leaves crunching under our feet, the echoes of dogs barking at all the unexpected activity, popping candy into our mouths and always, always the chance of ghosts.
I wanted to pass along that wonder to my own children on Halloween night… and now on to my grandchildren. Barry and I always delighted in Halloween night and now in visiting each of the 3 homes where our grandchildren dress up, march in neighborhood parades and/or carry little plastic pumpkins home… filled with little candy tokens of the most ghoulishly, gloriously free night of the calendar year.
It reminds me of my childhood. My parents. My brothers, cousin and friends.
Yes, a more innocent time for sure.
And even now, that’s why I save stuff. Old skirts, shirts, shoes. Stuff with, as I call it, costume potential. Boxes and boxes of costume potential that never lets me down.
Ah, ha! I guessss it’sssss in my bl00000d!
(Oh… and Barry and I still do Halloween!)…