Halloween- Ghostly Memories


by Terry Hogan


The years seem to fly by like a witch on a broom.  It doesnÕt seem like a half of a century ago that IÕd put on the hot rubbery mask and and head out.  Back then, I lived at Lake Bracken.  Bracken has a long string of houses, one row deep, following the shoreline.  It couldnÕt be covered by a small herd of little kids on Halloween night.  Especially since we walked it.


Those were the days before parents were concerned about weird people who might place foreign objects in treats.  It was a period when many of the treats were homemade, e.g. taffy apples, popcorn balls, and fudge. Parents didnÕt drive us.  We preferred to walk. It was without hazard, except for the occasional chase by older kids trying to scare us and get some candy.


WeÕd start several days before Halloween.  Everybody pretty much expected that back then and the porch lights would be turned on and the treats were waiting to be handed out.  We usually had the same group for trick or treating year after year.  There werenÕt that many of us about the same age – Al, Jim, Tom (JimÕs cousin from Galesburg), Greg, and Mary. 


About as rowdy as weÕd get was to throw a little corn around on somebodyÕs sidewalk. We thought that was pretty wild.  We would walk from house to house. The houses would be interspersed with a golf course and wooded ravines. The ravines were the most challenging even though there were well-worn footpaths through the woods.  It was dark, spooky and the masks and costumes didnÕt make the hike any easier.


We attended Allen Park School.  Back then, a part of one day was dedicated for kids to bring their costumes to school and participate in a parade, of sorts.  By class room, we would walk on the sidewalk so that nearby residents could see ghosts and goblins in daylight.  It was not Ōtrick or treatingĶ – no candy was requested nor received. 


Back then, our costumes differed quite a bit.  There were no masks of disfavored Presidents.  There were no overtly blood and gore – no fake chain saws or bloody-looking severed body parts.  There were no look-a-likes of movie madmen because there were no movie madmen, or if there were, these movies werenÕt shown in Galesburg.


Our time was not necessarily better.  It was merely different.  I believe we were much more sheltered from the cruelty that the world could invoke. I think the parents had learned what might lie ahead for their children, but trusted that there was still time to let kids be innocent kids.  We still spoke to strangers and we still trusted adults.  Scout masters were not considered as possible predators.  They were good folks who gave their time to help make a difference. 


Today some folks oppose Halloween as being inappropriate based on religious beliefs.  Certainly it is their right to have their own religious beliefs, but that is what they should be – their own.  Whatever adults may think, for most kids, Halloween isnÕt about religion or evil.  It is about having fun and getting a Ōsugar highĶ that will drive their teachers crazy. 


Drive by a grade school on November 1.   You will likely be able to hear the hum of kids vibrating with uncontrollable (sugar) energy.  If lucky you may also be able to make out the occasional sigh or groan of a teacher or principal as they reconsider why they didnÕt call in sick. Halloween probably comes around pretty quickly for the teachers too.


Happy Halloween.  And make sure your little ghosts have flashlights and reflecting tape.