Thursday, October 29, 2009
Halloween: a family history of
MARK’S ARTICLE – October 29, 2009
“Weird is weird enough”
ROOFTOP – I thought we’d have a late night roofsit so we could better get the sense of the approaching Halloween. Sense of Halloween. Now that’s a paradox for you. Para something.
While waiting for you, I was focusing down at the yard trying to conjure the ghosts of Halloweens past. Weird, the stuff you can see up here when it’s dark.
What was particularly weird was being able see some Halloween moments that I never experienced. That’s one serious ghost encounter. What I was really doing was remembering my favorite scene from “Meet me in St. Louis.”
From up here I could picture Margaret O’Brien as she knocked on the door of the Braukoff home, grabbed a handful of flour from a paper sack, and screamed, “I hate you, Mr. Braukoff!” Then she hit him right in the face with the flour, and ran away screaming, “I killed the Braukoff!”
Upon hearing the news at the bonfire that’s blazing in the middle of the street, Darryl Hickman proclaims that “Tootie is the Most Horrible!” One of the strangest scenes of any classic movie, and just as intriguing as all get out.
Halloween has come a ways over the years, hasn’t it? Remember me telling you how Mom and her friends used to go around and cut people’s flowers on Halloween? That was during her childhood days in Oklahoma. Nothing recent.
Destroying peoples’ flowers is about as cruel as throwin’ flour at ‘em and screaming that you hate them. Makes about as much sense, too.
When I was growing up we were a little more civilized. We dressed up as hobos or ghosts and went around trying to extort candy from people. Trick or Treat! What is that if not extortion? “Give us candy or we’ll mess somethin’ up!”
Fortunately, people knew we weren’t serious. Oh, there was the occasional dirty trick played by some of the mean kids. We called ‘em hoods. These guys would egg a house or soap the windows regardless if they got candy or not. Hey, they were hoods.
We never pulled pranks. We’d holler, knock for a few seconds and then move along. Seemed we walked for miles. We’d cross from one subdivision to another, knocking on hundreds maybe millions of doors and screaming “Trick or Treat!” Often having to go home to get new grocery sacks for our candy. The sweat and some of the gooey stuff we collected could do a number on a paper sack.
Late at night (like after 9:00) we’d come home, empty our loot on spread-out newspapers, and sort our stuff. Separate piles for chocolate, suckers, hard candy, gum, popcorn balls and other homemades… Oh, and the bad candy – you know the ones – were placed in a separate bag to be eaten sometime in late February.
Today, parents would wisely refuse to let their children eat a popcorn ball or homemade goodie from a stranger’s house. In the olden days -- the days before the Pixy Stix poisonings – we trusted people a little better.
Today, Halloween has pretty much evolved into something called “Trunk or Treat.” A gated facility or church will have a party where people decorate their car trunks, and hand out candy to kids who walk around the parking lot. A kid can make quite a haul in a very short walk. Kids today have it made.
Halloween has had a few makeovers, has it not? Twenty years from now, kids will probably stay home while parents go around knocking doors and handing out candy. They’ll announce themselves by hollering, “Lab-tested Treats!”
In the meantime, you need to share your Halloweens past with the grandkids. Don’t embellish. What we did needs no embellishment. Weird is weird enough. And, you can quote me.