Friday, October 29, 2010

Why, When I Was Your Age...



WARNING: These are the bitter musings of a bald, toothless, wretched old poop. Unlike in THIS RANT (and please be sure to let me know when you post something about it yourself!), I offer no solution to any problems. This is just kvetching for the sake of hearing myself type (which is not quite the right way to phrase it, but you know what I mean.) These pathetic thoughts will no doubt sour your entire weekend, as well as leave you yearning for a future when maladjusted crabapples like me are forcibly euthanized. If you choose to read what follows, I will not accept responsibility for your misery. You may end up depressed, suicidal, and lacking the will to do anything productive for the rest of your life.

Other than that, you should find this an enjoyable read.

*******************************************************************

When I was a kid, Halloween was much better.

There, I've said it. I am now officially one of those hideous old bastards who complains about how much better things used to be. So shoot me. You'll be doing me a favor.

Have you seen It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? That's how Halloween was when I was a kid. Beagles would climb up on top of their doghouses and fly off to shoot down German aircraft. It was great!

Well, wait a minute. Maybe that didn't happen. But the rest of the stuff did. Except for the part about sitting in a field all night waiting for The Great Pumpkin to show up. I didn't start doing that until after my first experience with angel dust. The sonovabitch didn't bring me any presents, either. All I remember is him saying, "Security? I've got a nutjob in the produce section. He's squatting in the gourd bin, naked, and I think he's trying to talk to a squash."

However, that's neither here nor there. What we're discussing is Halloween, circa 1965. The thing about Halloween, at that time, was that it was a night we kids got to dress up in costume and go out on our own. We waited for it to get really dark, so it would be scarier. We stayed out later than normal, so as to get to every possible source of candy within walking distance. And the only kids who had their parents with them were those not old enough to go to school yet.

You generally made up your own costume. It was a point of pride. If you had to buy a mask, it had to be one hell of a good one to pass muster. As a result, there were great multitudes of hobos, pirates, and clowns. Nobody had the props for anything more ambitious. You could be a ghost, of course, but you were risking your life. This was because your mom would kill you if you cut up a good sheet.

Occasionally, one of the boys would make the mistake of dressing in drag. He'd commandeer make-up, a wig, and high-heels from his mother or sister. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, and would get great laughs from the adults, it would likely have resulted in unmerciful teasing from your buddies. Of course, drag probably isn't an option now. It might be seen as transvestite-bashing or something. Likewise, it's un-PC to be a hobo now, since you're basically making fun of homeless people. And pirates are off the list because one-eyed people with hook hands and peg legs probably have some sort of anti-defamation league. And no witches. It's disrespectful of somebody's religion. About the only costume safe from criticism is one where nobody can figure out what you're supposed to be.



My friends would have been mortified to have a parent making the rounds with them. Part of the deal about Halloween - not said, but implied in our pre-adolescent contracts - was that if you were able to walk to school by yourself, you were old enough to trick-or-treat by yourself. It was a rite of passage, at least in my neighborhood. How many kids go out on their own now? Any?

Yeah, I know. It's a different world. There are child rapists and kidnappers lurking behind every bush. Hell, the people you would have unhesitatingly trusted to keep your kids safe in those days (priests, teachers) are the ones making headlines for lewd and lascivious behavior. Sheesh.

We went out as late as possible, and stayed out as late as possible. Now, even with parents accompanying most of the kids, it begins earlier and ends earlier. Part of the thrill, for us, was being out on the streets during hours when we normally wouldn't have been. That was scary in and of itself, which is what made it cool.

We went as far as six or seven blocks away - as far as our inner sense of security would let us go - whereas during a regular day of the year we never strayed more than three blocks from home. This is because kids have a sense of territory, just like dogs or cats, and you didn't venture too far beyond your own neighborhood because you knew that you might be invading someone else's turf. If you did, and you got beat up, you knew you had no real right to complain. But, on Halloween, if the disguises were good enough, you went further. Who knew who was under that mask? That was part of the daring and fun of the night. Now, even with parents (maybe especially with parents) kids only go to places they know.

In my day (in the before-time!) we'd gather as much booty as we could. And some of it might be unwrapped, or homemade, or otherwise not up to parental snuff. We always heard the stories about razor blades in apples, so if we got an apple we cut it up before we ate it. Other than that, we didn't give a damn. If it was candy, it went in our mouths. Now, unless it's a recognized securely-wrapped brand-name candy bar, it probably goes in the trash when the bag is emptied out at home.

Need I go into the fact that we got full-size candy bars, while now barely bite-sized treats are the norm? No, I didn't think so.

Some parents won't even let their kids go trick-or-treating. So, maybe they send the kid to a party. Or maybe not. I can't really imagine today's helicopter parents letting kids do the things they used to let us do at parties. Bobbing for apples? Why, little Jason might get some water up his nose! That's a lawsuit, for sure. It will affect his psyche and take years of analysis to overcome. And the possibility of damaging his teeth on a hard apple, or maybe catching pneumonia from that wet hair? Good Lord! That's child abuse! The Feds will be on your ass in no time flat. And you're not seriously considering telling the kids ghost stories, are you? No, we can't have that. You might traumatize them.

Yeah, I know. "You're not a parent, so don't suppose that you know what's best for my kid!" You're absolutely right. That's why I'm not a parent. I'd be a crummy one. At least I've had sense enough to realize that. There are armies of folks out there who don't have a clue.

OK, enough. I'll stop. I told you what was coming, but you didn't listen, did you?

Happy Frickin' Halloween.

Soon, with more bitter stuff.


46 comments:

haphazardlife said...

Meh, I'm already lacking the will to do anything productive. I'm here aren't I?

Cricket said...

Heh, heh. Of course, I've recently posted on something similar. All too true.

In my day, about 10 years after yours, all candy that would not pass parental muster was consumed immediately, while out trick-or-treating. Loose candy corn in bags, &c. Apples too, after a quick look-over. Hell, if anyone were to have stuck a razor blade in, there'd have to be a visible slice somewhere, no?

I think that one was debunked as an urban myth.

And who decided those little candy bars were "fun size?" I always though the "king size" bar was much more fun.

Happy Friggin' Hallowe'en to you, my swell pal.

Barbara Shallue said...

Thanks for taking me back through wonderful memories. Loved it!

Daryl said...

I was explaining to someone just last nite why kids do not trick or treat like they used to ...

Cool costume .. I always dressed as a gypsy ..til I discovered being a witch was even easier .. heh heh

Everyday Goddess said...

all valid points, i was a kid back then too. well, a little later, but in the same generation.

i'm guessing you were a giant candy corn in the picture?

Kat said...

HAHA!
Well, I am a parent (I have four) and I agree with you. Trick or treating was so much cooler when I was little. We went out by ourselves from a pretty young age. And I don't think there are more rapists or molestors now than there were then. As a matter of fact abductions are way down from the 1950's, everything is just more publicized now.
Still, my 7 and 5 year old go trick or treating with mom and dad. Mostly because we have to take the 3 and 1 year old. But once the older boys have a few friends to go with (we are new to this neighborhood) I'll let them go out by themselves. :)

lailani said...

lol!! I had to re-read the paragraph about you and squash bin just so I could laugh that hard again! Soooooo funny!

Oh, and the apple bobbing?? No, diseases spread by body fluid was the issue. Trust me on this. I worked for the 4-H office and we had to scratch the apple bobbing - told it could spread aids. You know, if a kid with the virus has it bites an apple he doesn't get and then another kid bites the same said apple? I have wondered about that...

Here's to remembering when trick or treating was really fun!

Cheers!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Ah, yes... I remember it well.

Jewels said...

Sigh. This is my favourite Suldog post ever. I COMPELTELY AGREE with you. I'm not even as old as dirt like you are and things were still much better when I was a kid.

Craig said...

You know, I can remember, as a 10-year-old, covering at least half of my hometown of 15,000 souls, which took me a few hours; during which I filled a standard-size pillowcase more than half-full. . .

Michelle H. said...

Well, you warned us. I can honestly say your kvetching had more crabbing than what's in the ocean, or what you bob for in an apple barrel filled with traumatizing water.

Of course, knowing you and your screed, you will still find something on the bright side with the holiday as it is in today's day and age.

Hilary said...

I pretty much went by the rule that my guys be with friends - once they were past the age of 7 or 8 that is. To them, I think Hallowe'en was every bit as great as we remember our own. At least I hope so.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Ah, Sully, you captured it perfectly. Halloween was the same way in my neighborhood in the mid 70's, right down to not trusting apples. Our favorite house was the retired military guy who gave out cans of soda. It was a unique "treat" and he was by far the most popular stop of the night.

Twinks. said...

Up until last year my mom wouldn't dare let me go trick-or-treating without adult supervision. (Typically my grandfather would muster up the courage to go with me.)

Last year I went without any adult, just me and my best friend.
We went in her neighborhood, which is one of the nicer, upper-class neighborhoods where I live. (which meant bigger, better candy.)
Long story short, we got about halfway done when we came upon one of those houses that hands out crappy off-brand candy. The toothless lady quietly said, "You ladies wait right here, I'll be right back."
We saw her walking back towards us with what looked like a small baggie filled with an illegal substance.
Needless to say, we bolted, running across her lawn and to the safety of the house next door, with her yelling after us, "You girls forgot your special surprise!"

I see now why mom wanted us to have an adult with us.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

That's why I'm not a parent. I'd be a crummy one. At least I've had sense enough to realize that. There are armies of folks out there who don't have a clue.

A-men.

Happy Halloween!

Uncle Skip, said...

It's here

Thimbelle said...

(despite what Twinks said in her comment, as her Mom I am uniquely qualified to tel you that we live in a very nice neighborhood!)

Where we live, most families now go to the "trunk or treat" events, or to the "fall festival" (that irks me so much I almost can't type it)

The "fall festival" is where you dress up, and get candy, but you do it in a "safe and supervised" atmosphere of a local church, youth center, or some other organization. There are games and treats and face painting.

It makes me want to barf.

I want my childhood back. I feel sorry for my kid - she never got the fun of what we grew up with.

I'm going to go eat a candy bar.

Teacher's Pet said...

I disagree with one part of your blog....(sorry to be disagreeable..but...)
"That's why I'm not a parent. I'd be a crummy one."
From what I know about you, I have to say that you are so wrong about that, Jim.
You are precisely the kind of parent we need more of.
Take care of you. I send best wishes to YOUR WIFE.
Warmest smiles,
Jackie

rc said...

My neighborhood has about 20 other houses within walking distance.

One parent goes door to door with the children while the other stays home to distribute candy to the children.

The reason one parent goes is because - besides distributing candy - about 1/3rd of the homes also distribute cordial glasses of schnapps, drambuie or similar to the accompanying parent.

Needless to say, marriages can be strained from arguments ensuing over who gets the right to trick-or-treat with the children...

Boom Boom Larew said...

Ah... a trip down memory lane! I grew up in the same area and enjoyed the same carefree adventures on Halloween. (Not only that, all the kids in my neighborhood regularly played outside after dark. That's the only way to play hide and seek!) Good times! Good times!

Buck said...

Well, I can't speak to 1965, as I was off on the periphery of The Evil Empire keeping the world safe for democracy. But 1955 was much as you describe. The treats were better, and the tricks... coz there was always ONE curmudgeon in the neighborhood who didn't wanna play... were also much better. That was when I learned ALL about paper bags, Zippos, and dog poop, a skill that would come in handy later in life.

So rant away. I'm witcha. Us Old Farts GOTTA stick together.

Anali said...

Happy Halloween Suldog! Ah, I remember those good ole days and the regular sized candy bars too. *sigh*

Lori said...

So your saying I shouldn't be telling ghost stories to my kids? :)

I do agree that it is not like when I was a kid...and you are right the candy was bigger and better back then. I live in a small rural town so a lot of kids are still out in groups without adults. Trick or treating is still pretty big here although some schools hold parties too..which seems kind of rediculous to me cause most of those kids go trick or treating too.

Happy Halloween!

Sandra said...

Okay, you warned me. I'm now going to have trouble sleeping because of the "naked in the squash section" idea "haunting" my thoughts.

Seriously, this was a great post. Let me just assure you that it was even better and more innocent when I was trick or treating about 10 years before you. I guess it's a good thing that kids today enjoy the little they get to do and don't have any concept of the fun they are missing.

A great post.

Moannie said...

Ah, Jim! You have sirred all the bogies to the surface with this one. I have studiously avoided the 'Things I hate' or 'when I was young'posts because I knew I would go to town and show my crotchety side when I have been aiming at 'What a cheerful soul I am' type posts. However, you in the Vanguard and me coming up behind you...and taking my courage in both hands, might just have a go at this one.

veri word: berium. let's do that!

Brian Miller said...

so we went on our first round last night...was a bit lame...but the boys enjoyed it so...there are some scarry kids out there you know...crazy outfits...a candy corn would have been welcome...

Me said...

I try to ensure my kids get the whole trick or treat experience, but I can see that many don't. I think we only got about 15 kids at our door last year...

oh well, more candy for me. :)

Eva Gallant said...

I grew up out int he country where the houses were way too far apart for trick or treating. My Mom always bought us lots of candy, but we missed the fun you had.

Everyday Goddess said...

back in to say i gave you one of my weekly award which you can collect anytime you like.

i love to read about growing experiences and thought others might too.

candy corn right??

Crazed Nitwit said...

I'm with you. I used to take a pillow case to hold all my loot back in the stone age. Pixie stix, sweettarts, and more excellent candy bars(full size).

Of course I lived outside of Detroit and Devil's Night used to be harmless pranks. We would sit on our roof with a hose just to nail the window soapers and egg throwers.

Thanks for the memories my friend.

lime said...

sok, i have my own halloween related rant from a few years ago. if you're interested it's here

Land of shimp said...

Hehe, or dear Jim, that was a suitably Lemony Snickett sort of beginning :-)

Increasingly I find myself grateful that I had, by nearly all estimations, a bad childhood. It means I never pine for the days of yore, since my days now are so much better. Isn't that kind of neat? Talk about a blessing in disguise.

Makes me think I should probably start beating my son, or depriving him of food immediately ;-) It's probably too late though, he's twenty, he'll likely remember his childhood fondly. Oh whatever could I have been thinking!

Have a happy Halloween, Jim and some candy, sounds like you could use the blood sugar lift.

Bee's Blog said...

I found Everydaygoddess through Magpie Tales and on her recommendation, came here. I came, I read, I had a good laugh and remembered a time when parents did not accompany their children on trick or treating. That seems a long time ago. Great read!

Pearl said...

Tell it like it is, baby. :-) I grew up in a trailer park -- can you just PICTURE how many trailers we could hit in two-three hours?! Hee hee! You could damn-near fill a pillow case...

Happy Halloween!

Pearl

Megan said...

A-freaking-men, sir.

Carolina said...

Are you still not smoking?

We don't have Halloween (yet) in the Netherlands. I've added '(yet)', because some shopkeepers are trying to convince us that Halloween should be added to our list of typical Dutch customs.
In some parts of the Netherlands however we 'celebrate' Sint Maarten on the 11th of November. Children make lanterns out of paper, wait till it's dark and go from door to door to sing a song and collect candy. (Note to self: idea for a post.)

And 1965 was of course the best year éver ;-)

Gaston Studio said...

Great story Sully, and so nostalgic of my own children going trick or treating by themselves. A simpler life, was it not?
Oh and congrats on the Goddess Award, much deserved!

gayle said...

I agree I agree!! Halloween was such a fun time when I was a kid and also when my kids were kids!!

gayle said...

I agree I agree!! Halloween was such a fun time when I was a kid and also when my kids were kids!!

Shammickite said...

When I was a kid in England, we didn't even have Hallowe'en.
Never even heard of it.
Instead, we had Guy Fawkes Day (Nov 5) a.k.a. Bonfire day. And we had HUGE bonfires. And fireworks. And burning the guy on the bonfire. And my birthday was the day before (Nov 4) so I always had my fireworks a day before all the other kids.
And that's WAAAAAY better than Hallowe'en.

Merisi said...

Imagine, when we were kids, it was all magical.
Then we became the adults. Poof!

Ericka said...

candy corn? i guessed traffic cone.

and i think i want to move to rc's neighborhood. i don't have kids, but i can just attach myself to a group of children for the booze, right?

in '65, i wasn't born. but in the 80s, our halloween rocked. this was mostly because my mom was awesome and organized several square miles of neighbors so we could go trick or treating. (hey, i grew up country - we didn't have close neighbors.)

you naked in the squash made me laugh. :-D

Suldog said...

Insofar as my costume is concerned, truly, I have no idea. My Mom put it together from leftover shopping bags, I can tell that much. I'll have to ask her, though I'm not sure if she'd remember. It's not that she has a bad memory, but she tends to focus on now rather than then (which is probably why she's so happy go lucky.)

Suldog said...

And the answer, from My Mom...

"I'm sure it's NOT KKK. I think it's probably a candy corn and, since I'm not much of a costume maker, it probably came as some sort of free item when you bought something or other. Can't help you any more than that. Why didn't you just put up the pirate picture? It would have been easier."

I love My Mom.

Karen said...

We lived in the country, so we just hit the few houses around us. There was an 80-something lady living nearby and we called her Grandma Dexter. She used to make hot chocolate and homemade donuts for us :)

Bee's Blog said...

Shammickite said...

"When I was a kid in England, we didn't even have Hallowe'en. Never even heard of it."

Absolutely right - Guy Fawkes was the big thing with the building of the bonfire for days and days beforehand. And then on the 4th, the kids from God-knows-where came and set it alight. The parents then scrambled and built another one - same thing happened every year on our army station!