Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Another night of costumes and pumpkins and candy and ghostly sights is upon us. I hope the weather is good for all the cousins as they trick or treat.

Here in Massachusetts, it is windy and coolish, but at least it is not raining. Thousands of people spend the day in Salem, which of course fancies itself the capital of witches and Halloween. Glenn and I went on a haunted history tour of our local Acton cemetery—very interesting!

Since we also love to think about what our ancestors were doing on October 31st, here are a few items I gleaned from an article:

Halloween was mentioned in American newspapers by the 1880’s, but no costumes were used. By the 1890’s costumes were at times worn, but the pranks part of the holiday was more common—

In 1890, a Reno newspaper wrote:“To-morrow night will be Hallowe'en, look out for your gate," referring to the tradition of stealing gates that was common around that time.

Also in Reno, this time in 1887, the paper mentions streets being barricaded with boxes, carriages moved from the street to sidewalks, and on one street, a “vehicle was mounted on the roof of a washhouse.”

By the early 1900’s, costumes and parties were in vogue, complete with ‘jack o lanterns, Indian masques, and black cats filled with bonbons’. Editor’s Note: I hope the black cats are not REAL!

The Stars and Stripes in 1942 wrote: “Halloween just passed…the tamest we’ve ever seen. Not even a telephone kiosk turned over.”

Back here in Massachusetts, we have pulled out our painted wooden ghosts and gravestones (‘I TOLD you I was sick’) and various decorations. Brian has unearthed our fog machine which we used in high school plays and he is looking forward to blasting the fog in spurts as the kids approach.

I hope that you ALL have a terrific Halloween. Enjoy!

Picture One: Jack O Lantern!
Picture Two: Our Halloween house, with Brian and Gina and the fog machine
Picture Three: Kristin and Tim Walker’s 110 pound pumpkin, and Leah
Picture Four: Leah and Cam IN the pumpkin, now hollowed out


CB said...

Jack and I are of the 1930-40 vintage and we never remembered any treats, just tricks! When did the treats start?

Pat said...

Good question!

I have read that candy began in earnest after WWII.

One person who is MY vintage says that he remembers small decorative halloween bags containing all sorts of things. These were assembled at home, usually composed of loose candies (candy corn, Hershey Kisses, marsmallows, MaryJanes or Tootsie Rolls).

Now that he says that, I remember those bags also.

Those days are gone now, as the scare of razor blades or poison mean we only use already packaged candy to give out.

Sue Kinsella said...

My doorbell rang about 4:30 p.m. yesterday. I figured it was my next door neighbor but when I opened it, I saw a little kid dressed up as a bear looking up at me expectantly. His mother was nearby and called out "Trick or treat!"

I had just gotten home from a week-long trip and had no candy. The kid was so little that I don't think he really knew what was happening anyway, but his mother was confused when I told the little guy, "Oh, Sweetie, I'm so sorry but I don't have anything!"

This is about the first trick-or-treater that we've ever gotten in 17 years of living here. We're in a condo across the street from a motel and this is just not a Halloween street. Of course, when Alex was younger we weren't home because we were in some other neighborhood, on a better Halloween street, trick-or-treating for him.

But still . . . boy, did I feel awful when I realized that I didn't have any candy to give this little guy! Mea culpa to the Halloween gods.

Anonymous said...

Aunt CB gotta say that I commented today that there was nary a smashed pumpkin anywhere and no soaped windows anywhere to be found. When I commented about that at work - they looked at me like I was nuts.

Good thing I didn't mention tipping outhouses - LOL.


CB/Mom said...

I must tell of the tricks that I know of!! Harold and I were talking of them last Sunday! I well remember the Hallowe'en that Arnon and his pal, Bill Tolan [ who died on the Solomen Islands] Took the rocker from the Devine's porch across the street and suspended it from the street light in front of our house!! How? Who knows!! -- and the pin in the doorbell which I never could get it to work but could get the notched spools to roll on the window and scare the wits from a person! Best of all tho was just running up on the porch and stamping !! [ That was about my speed as I was never very brave!] Jack has some good stories tho, hope he writes em!

Jack Kinsella said...

Halloween to me and my buddies was in the era of tricks but no treats!! We usually started about 2 or 3 nights before the oficial day and proceeded to irritate people who couldn't stand to be bothered. We put notched thread spools up to a window and pulled on a string to result in a terrific sound, we tied a string to the screen door and from across the street, pulled to make it slam (causing the ownder to come out to see who was there)and we always pounded on the front porch with heavy sticks.
A generation before, I heard, the thing to do was to push over outhouses but since they had mostly disalppeaed in our day this was not a common trick with our gang. But there was a rememberence of it. There was an old joke that went, "Charlie had BO so bad, we used to push him over on Halloween." I liked this joke but when I told it no one got the joke!