The ringing of the bell, the little ones dressed in elaborate costumes, and the little choruses of ‘Trick or Treat’ always reminds me of our not-so-elaborate costumes and our quests for candy on Halloween.
If you could get your parents to splurge, cloth tailor-made half masks, just like the Lone Ranger wore, were reasonably priced at grocery stores. However, most of us wore a different kind of mask, also available at grocery stores. In September, General Mills and Kelloggs would begin to print masks on their large cereal boxes of Cheerios, Kix, Wheaties, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, etc..
All you had to do was cut on the dotted lines, face, eye and mouth holes, poke the holes that were used for the string to hold the mask on your head. There were a variety of ‘faces’, a girl with blond braids, an Indian, cowboy, clown, pirate, pig and new ones each year. The rest of your costume consisted of your after-school clothes. Flannel shirts, a must.
We never went down into the village. Too many kids and too little candy. And we never went from farm to farm. Too far between stops and too many dogs. Luckily, pockets of Suburbia were springing up in the ‘Heights’. You could hit 5 or 6 houses in a clump and then move on to the next group.
My favorite house was a far walk, and there were only two other houses in the vicinity. Plus the house was right next to a cemetery. But it was well worth it. The president of Paramount Pies lived there and always had a big Halloween party. And he gave out the pies as treats. Those pies were my favorite treats. Individual pies set in cardboard pie tins and wrapped in cellophane. They cost 12 cents in stores at a time when you could still buy a candy bar for a nickel. We’d hit that house several times on our routes. We always got more pies without any hassle, because the person or persons answering the door were celebrating good times. They were always dressed in fancy costumes, and the young ladies always felt sorry for us because of our lack of costumes, only cardboard masks. Didn’t bother us.
Another must-stop was the priests’ house. Not many kids from the village bothered to climb up the church hill, and it was a long walk for the kids from the ‘Heights’. But like the pie house, it was worth the hike. We timed it to get there just before 9 PM because the yard light was turned off at 9, signaling the end Halloween at the house. Mrs. Farr, the housekeeper, would answer the door with the shopping bag of candy. She’d just hand us the bag, which always had a lot of candy; because, even though they never had many kids come to the door, she always bought a big supply of candy just in case. Or maybe she knew we would be ringing the bell and wanted to make sure we got a big treat. Even with our masks on, she always called us by name, warn us to be careful crossing the highway, and reminding us that ‘tomorrow’ was a Holy Day of Obligation. Then she would stand on the stoop and wait until we were out of the grounds.
The yard light would go out, and we’d head home. Halloween was over for us also.
Except for one more stop to get another pie.
The Old Hand of Oakdale
Published SPPP, Bulletin Board 10/31/13