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Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Good Old Days

My mother's comment to my last post had me reminiscing about my childhood Halloween Memories. Here's part of what she had to say, for those of you who didn't catch it:

"And what happened to ghost and pirate costumes??? (the first Halloween costume I remember having was a nurse...) I like Halloween because I like to see all the little kids dressed up and trying to say "trick or treat",and the parents trying to get them to be polite and say thank you. As a child we used to go out two days in a row with different costumes on, and get homemade popcorn balls from our land lady - such fond memories. Every one would be excited and that is probably why I think Halloween is just plain fun!"

Well, that got me thinking that my Halloweens must not have been a whole lot different from those of my mother. (Except I don't think I ever dressed up as a nurse.) When we all still lived in NY, my family would all drive out to Grandma's house (my mother's parents lived about 15 minutes away from us) in West Seneca, where they trick-or-treated on the night before Halloween. They called it Beggar's Night. My youngest aunt would be recruited to take us 4 kids around the neighborhood (she was in her early 20's and was also always a fan of the holiday anyway).

Grandma's neighbor had a popcorn machine in her garage and gave out little baggies to all the kids. She would dress her dog up in costumes (before everyone was doing it, a la Paris Hilton), and no one was ever worried about possible popcorn contamination. My own grandmother would stretch fake spiderwebs across the front doorway and scatter those orange and black fake spider rings in it. She'd also toss a few in her blond hair, and I remember the neighborhood kids referring to her as "the spider lady." (Only at Halloween, of course.) I don't remember Grandpa being too involved in the Halloween celebration. I think he was probably in the living room watching baseball...Mom?

Then, on Halloween night, we'd dress up all over again and trick-or-treat around our own neighborhood. Now, I do remember trick-or-treating in the rain, and wearing our costumes over heavy coats and boots. I think it even snowed one year, but I'll let my mother confirm/deny that one. I do think we always had fun though.

Each night, after coming in with our full bags of candy (we usually just used paper grocery bags that we had decorated), we kids would sit in a circle on the family room floor and dump out our stashes, trading with each other (I always hated Charleston Chews and Bit-O-Honey and would trade them for anything). I remember always saving my favorites for last, snacking on the just okay stuff here and there until inevitably, sometime around Easter, I'd find a paper sack of my favorites in my hiding spot (had to keep the candy safe - my sister was not above snagging others' treats), where I'd forgotten about it completely.

Back then, mid '80s, the hot costume was to dress like a punk. I remember at least one year when my aunt and sister both did just that. Not sure if there's any photographic evidence though... I was a witch (nothing like the photo in the last post though) a few times, simply because I think I could never make up my mind about what to be. That, and we always had a good supply of black graduation robes in the closet, which always made for good costume garb. There were some other creative costumes in the family too - my father created a Ghostbusters costume for my sister (vacuum hoses, cardboard box, hardhat, and lots of silver spraypaint), my mom made a lion costume (I know there's a blackmail-worthy photo of my brother Joe in that one) and a Todd (from Fox & the Hound) costume.

Of course, now you don't hear much about parent's making costumes for the kids, or even letting them out in the neighborhood to go door-to-door. I wonder if it's as much fun for kids now as it was for us. Trick-or-treating in the mall, though safer, just doesn't sound as much fun to me.

Now...Mom? Any photos you need to share? (Dagny is demanding them. Yeah, I'll blame it on her!)


Kai said...

Tami, I had such a BLAST reading this post! I never GOT to trick or treat (long story - not because of any reason you might think of, trust me) but it was VERY much an anticipated event in the 50s when I was a kid. Your memories AND the idea of your mom popping into your blog just made me SMILE! Thanks for this one!

Mom said...

Yes, Grandpa was usually in the family room watching TV -if it was sports I can't confirm. There is even a story about when I was a little girl (before age 7) when grandma went out on the back porch to get somthing on Halloween and locked herself out - she kept banging on the door but grandpa thought it was just more Halloweeners and figured grandma was getting the door so he didn't bother. I don't know how long she was stuck there before he got up and investigated...
and yes, it would be very cold on Halloween, and may be even snowed - some years you had two costumes - one for school and one that would fit over your winter coat (those graduation gowns come in real handy - witch, grim reaper etc.) As for photographic evidence ...hum.. I have to check - and then figure out how to use the scanner! (ooh and yes, I do remember the punk phase...)And one year, in West Seneca, Grandma counted more than 250 trick or treaters, thats a lot of bags of candy...

Joie said...

Wow! How neat!

I don't know yet, but I am hoping the fear of strangers hasn't reached this part of the country yet. I am hoping to have more than the grand total of three Trick-or-Treaters I had last year. (Which was up from 0 for the previous two years!)

And I remember making our own costumes....
I think my favorite ever was Ozma of Oz.(Our third grade teacher read us the original Oz stories in class) But the most creative goes to my sister who was a box of toothpaste. We painted a moving box white and put the Crest labels on it. Then we cut out arm and head holes. She wore a tag-board cone on her head as a cap. Poor thing could hardly waddle!! LOL! But, it sure was cute!

Thanks for the chance to reminice!!

Kai said...

You have just been TAGGED! What you do is (on your blog) list 5 weird things about yourself. Then you tag five OTHER friends (via THEIR blogs) so they will do the same. Let us know who you tagged so we can see what THEY say! Have fun!

Tami said...

Kai - glad I could amuse you! And I'm sure I can think of at least 5 "weird" things about myself... But will Dagny be offended if I post that before the one she tagged me for? (5 foods to try before you die...too many choices!)

Mom! - How did I never hear that story about Grandma being locked out on Halloween?? (or did I?) That's classic! I do remember the stories about Dad going around his neighborhood as a kid to scope out who was giving out the best candy, changing his mask, and making the rounds again.

Joie - I can just picture your sister waddling around in a THAT sounds like a blackmail photo! Hehehehe... Speaking of photos...the only good Halloween shots I have are from our college days - and if Kerri is reading this, I have one Halloween picture in particular that I know she doesn't want online!

Dagny said...

My mom used to make most of my costumes. I have since carried on the tradition by making my own these days.

Oh, and feel free to post the other meme first.

Dad said...

Tami - you failed to mention the REAL reason we went to West Seneca to trick or treat - the high concentration of houses within a small radius. Yes, greed. Grandma had over 250 halloweeners come to the house and only about 50 kids in the neihborhood! So, we weren't the only ones who did it. The other thing you failed to mention was the moaning and groaning you did while we were out - always wanting to cut it short becuase you were tired of walking. But, that was part of the fun for us.

The king and queen of halloween is you uncle Harry and Aunt Marylyn - who actually staged shows in their front yard for the visitors. One year they dressed up like zoombies and had a table full of real cow's livers, hearts, tripe, etc. that they would chop up with cleavers as people arrived at the house. Blood everywhere - a little over the top. Many a small child ran screaming from the area.

Lastly, I think the most fun we had was carving pumpkins - which ranged from the innocent smiley face (yours)to the extremely bizzare (your brothers) with hatchets, bolts, knives, etc. sticking out of them with plenty of fake blood for effect.

Ahh - those were the days.

Dagny said...

Hmmm. Sounds like Uncle Harry and Aunt Marylyn's was the place to be.

Tami said...

Dagny - they were the ones that went all out for all the holidays. As far as I know, they still do!