Halloween of Years Gone By

I borrowed parts of this writing from Mary Maxwell, a popular speaker at events throughout Nebraska and across the country.  It reminded me so much of my childhood that I wanted to share it with you.
For those of us who grew up in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, Halloween was a fun time for children and for adults who made cookies, popcorn balls and gumdrop people for the goblins and ghosts who would come to their doors.  When our kids were young we sent them on their way on Halloween night with older kids in charge of the younger ones.  The little ones carried little sacks or plastic pumpkins and "trick or treat" and "thank you" was the norm when they came to the door and received their treats.  

There was always at least one house where they would be asked to do a trick, sing or a little dance before getting anything in their sacks.  That was part of the fun even if the older kids grumbled about it.  And, one house which was avoided by the older kids who had been there the year before.... the owner would hand out Bartlet pears, green and as hard-as-a-rock as their treat.  Unfortunately many of them did not make it very far....the kids generally pitched them away to make room in their sacks for goodies.

It was so much fun...the older kids would bring the little ones back after a tour around the block, examine  their loot (the big kids used pillow cases as bags) then would travel three or four blocks away packing more and more candy into their bags till they finally reached the house where they knew that cans of soda pop were being given (in the early 70's and 80', a can of pop was considered a REAL TREAT! )  A few houses away was the little Granny sitting on her porch giving her homemade caramel popcorn balls carefully wrapped in wax paper.  The kids wouldn't ever consider not going there, even if it was snowy and the blowing winds made them shiver.

Their pillow cases would bulge with various kinds of loot....at our house, the bags were dumped out on the kitchen table or a clean sheet laid on the floor and the kids would go through it...trading one piece of candy for another.."I'll give you 3 pieces of gum for a Tootsie pop"...."I don't like gumdrops, anyone want to trade?".  Even Dad got into the act ..if he found a piece of candy he liked, usually chocolate, it was HIS...no argument from the kids, they knew when they had a good thing going.
Then years later things changed.  On Halloween night vans and cars started to arrive on our street to drop-off 4 or 5 or more kids to go trick or treating in our neighborhood.  They would race from one house to another, ring the doorbell and hold out their sacks....once they got their loot, they'd turn around and race to the next.  Once in a while one would say "thank you" or "have a nice Halloween" ....that made up for the many who didn't.
Then the next thing we knew, people became very concerned about candy being laced with dangerous and harmful stuff.  Hospitals and medical emergency rooms volunteered to x-ray the candies in case someone had inserted a pin or other dangerous item in them.  The friendly folks who once treated with homemade cookies and popcorn balls were told "mama said to only take things that are bought at the grocery store".
The old tradition of trick-or-treating has nearly been abandoned in favor of home or school parties, malls and stores giving candies and gifts for the best costumes and for just being there.  Many children will never have the fun and thrill of dressing up and being in their neighborhood long after "the street lights came on" and being almost scared by a ghost, vampire, Darth Vader or even Frankenstein himself as they went from place to place was part of the fun.
How sad that is........

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