Halloween has always been one of my favorite days. When we were kids, we would plan our "costumes" for weeks. We would hunt through old clothes and check out masks at the store. Stephen and I never had a "store-bought" costume, and probably no one but us could guess what our homemade outfits were "supposed" to be, but it was fun anyway.(Except for those darn masks which were hard to look out of and would make you sweat like crazy even on cool nights.)
When I was growing up in Waco, the area we lived in was Trick or Treater's paradise. Nearly every house for blocks had their porch light on. Nanny (Mamie Eaves Paulson) would walk me and Stephen as long as we wanted, and we would collect so much candy that it would fill a grocery bag (in my memory!). We would make trips back to the house to empty our bags and go to a different street several times.
Mom and Dad would stay at the house to hand out candy and sort through all the goodies we'd collect. Dad would eat quite a bit of it, too. This was the days before people were afraid to eat homemade treats. We would get homemade cupcakes and cookies, my favorite were the popcorn balls. We would walk along eating the good things that people gave us without a care in the world.
Usually there would be one or two houses where a Halloween party was taking place. Sometimes the people would invite us in to get treats off the table, or a cup of punch. I really loved the costurme parties, to see the adults wearing costumes.
As we got older, Stephen and I would take Danny with us for the first part of the evening. It's always a good idea to take a cute small child, everyone gives them more candy - especially if they only have a small sack! Some years we would walk with a group of friends, which could be quite an adventure. Someone would always want to go farther than we had ever ventured, into strange neighborhoods that we weren't familiar with.
One year we had gone onto an unfamiliar street and were having pretty good luck. One house was sort of by itself with a vacant lot next to it. We saw a man sitting on a fallen log in the vacant lot, but still decided to cut across the lot to get to the house. As we approached the man, who had his back to us, we started hollering "Trick or Treat!" He turned to face us and he had a scary mask on. The group of kids ran in every direction but toward that house!
Of course, some people went to a lot of trouble to give their house "atmosphere" even back then. My favorite was on the same street as my grandmother's house. The whole family would put on sheets and sit on the front porch to hand out candy. When we were small you couldn't talk us into asking them for candy! One lady used to put the candy in a big iron pot in her front yard and wear a witch's outfit. My favorite thing was all the Jack-O'Lanterns, I always admired the carving job on each one I saw.
When we moved to Houston, Stephen and I would walk Danny and Mike around the neighborhood. We would still walk with a group of friends, there was safety in numbers since it was known that rough teenagers would try to take sacks from kids sometimes.
We would put a lot of effort into decorating our house, but we didn't buy decorations back then. We would stuff one of Dad's work gloves and have it sticking out of the mailbox (like "It" on the Adam's Family), and find things to make a "body" to cover with a sheet in the front yard. Then we would put a JackO'Lantern at each end. It was fun to watch kids poke at it with a stick to see if if would move.
Once, Stephen had me cover him with a sheet to fool some of his friends. When they came up and started poking at him, he sat up! Of course they claimed they knew he was there all along when he caught up with them later in the evening.
My best friend, Elaine and her brother Calvin lived up the street in those days. Calvin would sit in a tree by their front porch and drop a sheet on teenagers who came up their path. The first year that we lived there, we had walked along with our neighbor with three small children who lived across the street. Calvin dropped the sheet on her, and you could hear her scream a couple of blocks away. She was a petite lady and Calvin had thought she was one of my teenage friends!
To be continued...