This is the week for all the Ghost and Goblins and as I observe all the many different costumes on display in the stores I began to reflect back to the years past when Halloween was a time of great excitement.
We were given a dime and were allowed to go to Miss Reba’s store and pick out a false face. There was not much of a choice among the thin stiff cloth faces that fit over the face held on by a thin rubber band. We only had one to last through school and then for the church party at night. By the time you got home from school the mask had gotten soft around your mouth and all the color was gone from it and was all over your own mouth.
It was with great excitement that we met our friends at school to try to guess who was who. (Of course everyone recognized each other’s clothes but no one would admit it.) At the school party there were little sacks of parched peanuts and popcorn balls, and the day was spent playing games like putting the tail on the black cat or coloring jack-o-lanterns to take home to our parents.
The most exciting time of the whole day was the party at the church. Not only did you get to go out at night but you got to dress up in sheets or your Mother’s dress or Dad’s overalls, big shoes and a hat. All this made you really scary although all the color was gone from your false face after wearing it all day.
At the church there were the big tubs of water with the beautiful red apples floating on top that you got to try to pick up with your teeth. Apples were a treat to those of us who did not see them very often.
And the most wonderful part of the whole day were the steaming cups of hot chocolate with the beautiful white marshmallows floating on top served at the church party. Miss Reba was always there joining in the fun and laughing while trying to identify each child. Occasionally one of the parents or Sunday School teachers would dress up and that added to the merriment. There were a lot of pillows used to make odd shaped bodies to foil any attempts to try to identify each other.
Occasionally we were fortunate enough at home to have a pumpkin to make a jack–o-lantern. The job of carving was usually left up to my brother Pat who was an expert at making teeth for all of us out of the left over pieces cut from the pumpkin. We would light and relight the small candle that was placed in the pumpkin to be sure that it was going to be the most perfect jack-o-lantern that was ever placed on a porch at Halloween. One Halloween we had a hayride at night and one could imagine hearing all kinds of weird sounds in the darkness. I am sure that I heard wolves and ghost very near.
Today there is trick-or-treating from door to door and kids try to see who can get the biggest sacks of goodies but there was something very special in the small bags of parched peanuts, popcorn balls, bobbing for apples and that very special something called hot chocolate with the marshmallows floating on top.