Happy Halloween!

Girl in Halloween costume, 1955 (credit:  Mashable)Halloween Mask

Halloween is next week already.  More and more neighbors are running to the store for decorations.  Our neighborhood is decked out to the nines with orange and purple lights and gigantic spiders made of black garbage bags and enormous, house-sized rope spiderwebs.  Yards have been turned into Styrofoam cemeteries and there are coffins on every corner.  Costumes have become elaborate, so much more than when I was a kid.  Our costumes were certainly not store-bought; we’d pull out our rattiest clothes and oldest shoes (think Dad’s old work pants cut down to child length) with a flannel shirt and suspenders.  Sometimes we’d stuff leaves in them so we’d look “lumpy.”  We’d burn cork and rub the ash on our faces to look like unshaven bums, and into our hair so it would look dirty.  We all went as “a hobo.”  Do kids today even know what a hobo is?  Remember the vagrants who used to ride the rails and hang out in the yards?  They weren’t homeless or beggars.  They were just transient.  Long before spray-painted graffiti on the train cars.  A hobo would never deface his chosen method of transportation.  Those were the last days of the Iron Horse (the black steam engine) and boxcars chugging along with open doors, inviting the hobos to hop in and take a ride.

Other than the candy, I hate Halloween.  I do not like to be scared.  There is a definite difference between being afraid and being scared.  There’s nothing of which I’m afraid, but I scare easily.  I despise haunted houses and horror movies.  My children and grandchildren love these things and love to scare me.

I do enjoy the little Trick-or-Treaters, but three barking dogs for four straight hours frays my nerves. It took years of coaxing by my family to let my four children go trick-or-treating back in the day.  I felt that I’d spent all year drilling the “don’t talk to strangers” thing into them; I certainly didn’t want to send them out begging candy from strangers one night a year.  I could afford to buy them all the candy they needed and they didn’t need to beg for it.  I was finally overruled and after hours of walking them up and down streets in my town, they’d empty pillowcases of crap, the cheapest of which we’d still find hidden alongside their beds in April.  The teachers at our school would make math games for the kids during the first week of November.  Graph your chocolate, non-chocolate, fruit, gum, non-food items.  Ugh.

What I do miss is “Injun Summer.”  This was published every year by the Chicago Tribune until everyone got up in arms about the “Injun” implication and they discontinued it.  I’d wait for it every year.  When my dad would pull out the wire garbage can and burn leaves in our driveway, I was sure I could see those indians dancing around the fire in their buckskin and silent moccasins.  They were real to me and I respected them and admired them as indigenous Americans.  I loved the ritual of the burning leaves: the dry leaves crackling in the blue-orange fire and the wonderful smell.  I miss roasting marshmallows on the fire and throwing foil-wrapped potatoes into it, only to be rewarded with the most delicious baked potatoes as the fire died.  Most of all, I miss my dad.


Ya’know how all the non-Christians get up in arms over nativity sets at Christmastime?  I’m thinking about making a fuss about Halloween.

Who’s with me?

Published in: on October 24, 2014 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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