Halloween. Today the word itself can spawn extreme reactions from individuals. Nevertheless, financial reports tell us that folks will spend millions of dollars for Halloween decorations and costumes as well tasty treats to be served during parties and candy to be tossed into the buckets and bags of trick or treaters. Churches sponsor “fall festivals” or “trunk or treat” activities for children who are encouraged to dress as biblical characters; no devils or witches allowed. The word “Halloween” has been expunged from religious calendars and communications while other segments of society celebrate with massive haunted houses and elaborate costume parties.
However, this was not the approach to Halloween during the 1950s. In fact, Halloween was a welcomed activity for the children of the community. Those who lived on farms were driven into town to join the local children in going door to door while yelling, “Trick or treat.” This was an acceptable tradition for the children who dressed as cowboys, Indians, ghosts or other non-threatening characters that stirred no controversy. At the end of the evening the children discovered candy apples, popcorn balls, cookies and other goodies from the kitchens of the residents in their special trick or treat bag or the pillowcase used to collect goodies. Halloween was a simple activity enjoyed by adults as well as children.
Even churches joined in the celebration. One year the leaders of our church created a haunted house for the younger members of the congregation. The old wooden building of First Baptist Church had a large, unfinished attic which proved to be an inviting space for some spooky business. The leaders were diligent in their efforts to frighten the children. The youth members served as guides for those brave enough to explore the “rooms” of the haunted house. The children were dared to put their hand into a bowl of “brains” (cooked spaghetti) and a tub of “eyeballs” (peeled green grapes). In other rooms the visitors found a dead man in a wooden coffin that sat up and screamed at appropriate times and a victim hanging from a rafter; there were other scenarios which the leaders had conjured in their minds and created in the attic. Having to carefully walk planks to move across the attic only intensified the fright caused by the eyeballs, brains and other ventures in the haunted house. The adults’ delight was obvious as they listened to the protests and screams of the participants.
Yes, the Halloweens of yesteryear were quite simpler than the celebrations of today. Millions of dollars were not spent on costumes and candy. Devils, witches, zombies and other creatures of evil were not featured in the projects. Children were able to enjoy what we call good “clean” fun. So, let the kids enjoy Halloween and their collection of store-bought candy, which may be enough sweets to last for an entire year. Happy Halloween!