Friday, October 31, 2014

70s Halloween Remembered

The costumes for today's kids just aren't right. I remember the bad old days of the 70's when Halloween reached its pre-manufactured cultural low. My earliest memory of costumes consisted of wearing plastic tunics bearing the image of what I was supposed to be, and a thin plastic mask held on with elastic. These things always pinched your face a little, changed your voice, and didn't breath very well. But hey, that's what all the other kids were wearing, so it's what you wore, too. If you were lucky, the mask survived the night, but often enough the mask cracked or the elastic broke.

I know that I was a hobo one year and my sister was a gypsy because I have a picture of it. I don't remember the costume at all, but I do remember the texture on the burnt cork rubbing on my nose.

In later years I tried some different, home-made costumers. For a few years, I was a ghost. I cut holes in a sheet, but on a tie and a hat, along with a big nose attached to plastic glasses. This suit was far more comfortable than any of the kids costumes, but hot in its own way. When I was old enough to go out on my own, I wandered about in my tween years in the big glasses with the big nose. Yes, that was lame. I was lame. We all were lame. It was the 70's.



In my family, all the candy was dumped into a large pile so that my mother could pull out all the gum and anything else that looked suspect. In the 70's, everyone was afraid of adulterated food, such as razor blades and needes hidden inside them. Mind you, nobody ever knew anybody who actually did anything like that, but those were the fear. In the late 70's, some nut actually went and poisoned pain killers, killing a few people, so I can understand some caution in the late 70's. Once all the food was properly checked out, the family shared the loot. When I met my wife, I was surprised to learn that she got to keep her own candy, and keep it in her room. I never had such a privilege. Then again, if that had been true, my siblings would have stolen it all away anyway. They were shameless.

The nigh before Halloween was called moving night, because that is the night that things moved. If your house was going to get toilet papered, that was the night it would happen. My sister gathered us up once to TP our own house. Valeries has since gone on to become a professional party planner, which surprises none of us a bit. Who can't have a party with a TP's house?

Back in the 70's, there were vast herds of kids that roamed the suburbs as that was the end of the baby boom. Even at the end of the street, our house got lots of kids through. I used to give out the candy in the 80's when I was in high school. Even there we had lots of visitors. By the time that college was over, my mother had stopped stocking large hoards of candy. She had switched over to large chocolate bars as the hoards had greatly diminished.

My new house, on a culd-de-sac, barely gets anyway. The old house got lots of kids. Almost every year we got lots of kids except after 9/11. That year, I left candy on my stoop and not only did no one steal all the candy, but the candy pretty much remained there. The year after that, there was a sniper in the county shooting at school kids and parents were understandably paranoid. After that, Halloween picked back up until hoardes of hispanic kids were coming to our door.