Growing up it seemed like we had an assortment of items during Halloween. There were the costumes—angels, red devils, witches, princes, princesses, superheroes (Batman, Superman, etc), fairytales (Little Bo Beep, Little Red Riding Hood, etc), clowns, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Popeye the Sailor Man, etc.
Pumpkins added to the ambiance of the season, especially if they were carved hideously with a candle inside. Of course there were those children, mischievous and blatant, who would squirt lighter fluid from their pappy into the eyes of the pumpkins. Unfortunately, this caused some burns as well as roasted pumpkin by lighter fluid. It was not a pleasant smell.
No Halloween would be complete without the bowls of candies, especially candy corn. Roaming the neighborhood after sunset and collecting the various candies, apples, nuts, etc was an adventure.
Of course those children, mischievous and blatant, would carry rolls of tissue paper to decorate those houses where the owners refused to give a treat. Some of these future delinquents carried Huckleberry and Yogi Bear Soap dispensers to “wash” the windshields of the sitting cars of those who had no treat to dispense. A little water, Huck or Yogi’s soap, and tissue paper made a fine reminder that next year they better have a treat.
Going back to candy corn, based on memory there seemed to be a lot of this candy at Halloween. In fact I still remember it being on the table at Thanksgiving.
Of course a child faced with the ultimate decision between having a heap of cranberry sauce or a handful of candy corn on their plate always went for the candy corn. Cranberry sauce to a youngster was some exotic concoction which must have been the turkey’s revenge. Of course before the day was over with a table of children ( cousins and all ) the candy corn disappeared, but the turkey would take another week or so—turkey sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey gravy, turkey soup, etc.
Unfortunately the cranberry sauce would be showing up on the table on Christmas Day with the baked ham. New Year’s Day we sat down to the remains of the cranberry sauce, black-eyed peas, collard greens ( a lot of greens ), potatoes, yams, cornbread, and pecan pie. Of course, we would have to finish everything on the table because it was New Year’s Day. I will tell you that cranberry sauce and collard greens are not a comfort food for a child facing bedtime.
Since I digressed somewhat, back to Halloween. Another feature of the day was for us children to hear some tale, true of course, from the adults about some weird thing of which they had personal knowledge before we went to bed. This was not a comfort either.
One of my favorite tales from my maternal grandmother was when she was eight. With her parents and siblings, she was attending the funeral of an elderly neighbor. Of course, funerals back in those days took place in the house with a lot of food.
As the mourners sat around the living room with the coffin in the middle, jawing about this and that and eating the hand-prepared morsels, someone put a coffee pot on the table with the deceased’s favorite brew inside. As one of her relatives began filling cups, the deceased rose from her coffin and said, “My gracious! That coffee smells mighty good. Give me a cup.”
My grandmother would end the story the same way. The elderly lady had to crawl out of her coffin and get her own coffee since everyone in the room had skedaddled to parts unknown leaving the living room a mess.
If you celebrate Halloween, please be safe. Check anything that your child is given, and please limit their candy consumption. Have fun in whatever activities you engage in during the night. Please use reason and commonsense. Don’t decorate your neighbor’s yards unless you plan to help clean up the mess on November 1. Enjoy time with family and friends.
G. D. Williams © 2011
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