October 31 again

Since I was a kid some 60 years ago Hallowe’en has become a really big deal. People decorate the outside of their houses elaborately, while we just carved a couple of pumpkins and called it good. During the interval, a transition period, if you will, before Hallowe’en became a big business, I decorated the outside of my house with stuff I made. My neighbor across the street played a tape of scary music on a boombox in his open garage and I hung sheets and stuff from my palm tree. I was living in City Heights, a “ghetto” part of San Diego, known for being the part of the city where many immigrants made their first American home.

Hallowe’en is a multi-cultural holiday and it was so much fun to see all the kids and their parents, still dressed in their various “old countries” clothes as costumes, coming to say “Trick or Treat.” It was sweet, inspiring.

My dad sometimes reflected on his childhood Halloweens. They would have been different anyway — fewer cars on the roads, no giant bags of candy. His stories involved more tricks than treats; much pushing over of out-houses, that kind of thing.

My dad is the little kid with his eyes closed blowing on a noisemaker. The witch is his big sister, the other kid is his cousin, probably 1932 in Loveland, CO.

My brother and I learned a trick from my dad and we pulled it a few times. It involved one kid standing on one side of the street, the other kid across from him on the other side and both pretending they were pulling hard on a rope. Then, when a car stopped, the kids “dropped” the rope and walked away.

I think that was the last year they let us go out. 😀

When I was teaching, having learned how scared kids are of English class, I didn’t feel a costume was necessary. I just painted a little vampire blood in the corners of my mouth if Halloween fell on a school day. It was plenty. Students would see me on campus, come up to talk to me, and when I came out of the shadows, and they saw the “blood,” they screamed.

Featured photo: My brother Kirk dressed as a rodeo clown, me dressed as I have NO idea, Debbie Mahotca, our neighbor, dressed as a gypsy, 1961. Hallowe’en was always cold in Bellevue, Nebraska, and often snowy.


18 thoughts on “October 31 again

  1. Growing up in New Jersey, the night before Halloween was always Mischief Night. Houses got rolled, pumpkins got smashed, cars got egged. What in the hell…..??? My dad always made sure to park his car in the garage on Mischief Night. The day after Halloween was a holy day of obligation and, going to Catholic school, we had the day off. Yup…Halloween was quite the big deal for this this Catholic Jersey girl. Crazy memories….

  2. I have always disliked Halloween — for many reasons. I guess now I am too much of a realist to want to be anything other than myself!

    • Being myself can be scary enough! 😉 Yeah, at this point, I don’t like Halloween at all. I’ve thought about how my feelings about holidays has changed over the years and basically I think it’s that when we’re young, we expect some great transformation out of all the preparation and changes in behavior and clothing, but nothing really changes as a result. We go back to the way we were before with a feeling of disappointment that there was no transformation of anything, just a mess to clean up. And politics. Politics has kind of ruined Thanksgiving. Why it has to have a historical “legend” is beyond me when the REAL history is interesting and relatively unknown. So, instead, we fight over the genocide of the Indians by the white settlers which no one can rationally dispute was wrong. America has become very tiring. If Thanksgiving were just a day when you gather with your friends and have a big dinner and be grateful you have friends and dinner, that would be awesome. Christmas, too.

      • That’s interesting — I think that I have put away the history of Thanksgiving and made it a celebration of family and friends. It may have helped me that my mother was an immigrant (from England), and probably didn’t realize the historical or political importance of Thanksgiving, so made a traditional dinner and celebrated it with family and friends. Likewise Christmas — a day of celebration, fun and feast, but nothing religious or political. I tend now to make both holidays as simple as possible — dinner out with a friend, or perhaps a Costco Chicken and some of the trimmings to make it feel like the holiday!

      • I agree with you completely – I dislike Thanksgiving intensely – it doesn’t make any sense – if it needs to be about spending time with family and friends – that’s great. And Halloween – I have never been able to wrap my head around – sending your kids out, dressed as god knows what, to beg candy from complete strangers. Very puzzling.

        • Thanksgiving makes sense if you know the true story, but basically I think having friends over for dinner is reason enough. Halloween was once just for kids, but if you think about it, it’s pretty crazy.

          • Thanksgiving has always made the most sense if I get rid of the Pilgrims, etc., and consider it a fall harvest festival — that, then, makes having friends over for dinner the primary focus, and it makes good sense to me!

            • It is a harvest festival. 🙂 I know that in the past there was a need to unite the disparate cultures who lived here into a common folklore, but Thanksgiving didn’t even exist until 1863 and the point of it was to call a brief halt to the Civil War and remind both sides that we were one nation. I think the whole Pilgrim thing came later. BUT there was a real Indian + Pilgrim feast in the 17th century on which the myth was based.

              I used to write about it https://marthakennedy.blog/2016/11/24/its-not-about-indians-and-pilgrims/

  3. I’ve been trying to guess what you might have dressed up as – someone who had braids (?). Anyway, I enjoyed this post. Halloween has been a favorite holiday of mine because it was fun without any family drama that seeped into other holidays when I was a kid. I also grew up in a part of New Jersey where the night before was called Cabbage Night (why, I don’t know) when people strung toilet paper all over trees and such. I didn’t get into that. One year my youngest sister used to sit on the front steps and scream randomly into the night to set a scary atmosphere. I posted yesterday about Halloween because here in my (former) NH town, trick or treat was always on the 30th – which I suppose eliminated the nonsense that would have to be cleaned up.
    Now I just don’t enjoy super scary Halloween haunted houses, mazes and “celebrations” at all. Real Life contains more than enough of that.
    Wonderful photos, Martha. Real keepsakes 🙂

  4. The costumes were never store bought – always homemade and generally very clever. Now everyone is Elsa or Spiderman or some other movie character purchased from Walmart. Sparky and I were discussing the issue of shelling out big $$ for candy and the risk of COVID exposure. We figure it just isn’t worth it!

Comments are closed.