photo by Sheri Dixon

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Through the Decades (Decay + Hades = Decades)

Halloween circa 1960's

(my childhood)

Everyone old enough to walk upright trick or treated- almost NEVER with parents- older kids took the younger ones. Starting at DARK on Halloween night. If a porch light was on, the house was fair game. If the porch light was off, you left them alone. At least that was the line you told your parents while sneaking the spare toilet paper and eggs outta the house (which our parents totally saw). We were told, "Don't cross the street- stay on our block" but we interpreted that as, "Stay in our zip code" and our parents knew that, too.

We'd plumb fill up a pillowcase with candy, return home, empty it out and go back out again. The neighbors always pretended they'd never seen us before...several times that night.

Halloween was over when all porch lights were off and/or midnight. They generally coincided.

Halloween circa 1970's

(my teens)

As a high-schooler, I collected a tidy sum to wear a frog suit (not like a scuba diver, like an amphibian) and travel from the field house on the first floor, up the THREE flights of stairs (traversing each floor first) to the top of the school at the other end at final passing time. The stairs were hell wearing flippers but I made over $100 in collected bets.

Trick or treating had lost its appeal somewhat- to be replaced by "working" at the Jaycee's Haunted House, which was by turns hot, freezing, dirty, wet and exhausting. It was awesome. I worked there in costume a few years, then helped them organize and run it for a few years. We gauged our success by the number of people I'd have to help escort out the side doors because they couldn't take another step forward. I also met my first husband there. First a treat, then (aww, hell. Figure it out).

Halloween circa 1980's

(my 20's)

We'd moved out to the country, meaning no neighborhood. The kids were little and the family was spread out half in North Racine (20 minutes from us) and half in West Racine (another 20 minutes from there). I'd dress the kids, we'd get in the car and race from one relative to the next one so they could run up the porch, ring the bell and be fussed over and petted, then back into the car and to the next one...all in the 2 hour alotted "trick or treat time" the city enforced. Late afternoon on the Saturday closest to Halloween.

Halloween circa 1990's

(my 30's)

I'd moved to Texas and was working 2 full time jobs. The only time I noticed Halloween was when we got prank calls at work about black cats and newt's eyes.

Halloween circa 2000's

(my 40's)

A new child, and a new environment. The days of random trick or treating were over, replaced by church "Harvest Festivals" or other organized events- Boo at the Zoo for the younger kids and "Halloween at the Hatchery" for older kids. We hosted a few Halloween parties and they were alot of fun for everyone, incorporating the tamer aspects of the haunted house years.

Halloween circa 2010's

(my 50's)

Holy moly. I've got an almost-teenager. We've far outgrown church festivals, Boo at the Zoo AND the Fish Hatchery and we flat don't have the time or resources for a big Halloween bash at the new place (yet- we have plans simmering in the cauldrons of our minds, we do...). So we went to the Denton Day of the Dead yesterday. It was fabulous. Trick or treating (from classic car to classic car and booth to booth) good food, fun/funny/horrific/horrifying costumes on kids from zero to a century old (my favorite- Dead Elvis). Alec went as Guy Fawkes and had his photo taken with several people and others gave a thumbs-up for the Revolution.

(Alec at Recycled Books and one of the books he got there)

We ate at Fuzzy's Tacos and the evening concluded with a terrific performance of Cirque du Horror under the sliver of a chilly Texas moon.

Over half a century of Halloweens come and gone. Wasn't it just yesterday I was dared to knock on mean old Mr. Cushman's myself? Four years old and terrified, by god I did it, even though his porch light was off and all the neighborhood kids were afraid of him. The door creaked open, Mr. Cushman glared out and I met his eyes with my own steely gaze. Stuck out my sack and squeaked "Trick or Treat". He filled my pillowcase with candy and I returned to the sidewalk triumphant.

One thing I've always known- it's better to face monsters than turn your back on them.

Happy Halloween!

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