Quotes I like:

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scary Halloween!

This photo is of Halloween in the good ole days!  When costumes were made of plastic and had masks that you could barely see through and hardly breathe through.  The days when your parents turned you loose on the neighborhood all by yourselves.  No mollycoddling for us--no siree bob!  We went out in the dark, alone armed with paper bags and plastic masks. But back then you knew most of the folks in your neighborhood. Most of them were your friends parents anyway cause we were the boomers.  Whole neighborhoods of kids that overwhelmed the school system and just about everything else for the rest of our lives.  We came from families that routinely had three to five children and we were a mob to contend with.  Imagine if you will a neighborhood of 25 homes with an average of 3.5 kids per house (no DINKS back then!).  That comes to alot of kids marauding about on Halloween night and most every other night and day of the year.  We travelled in packs.  We had wierd nicknames - not like kids now who have wierd names period. We had names that we could shed when we grew up if we were lucky enough to escape the monikers.  I had friends who I only knew as: Jelly Face, Stinky, Dolly (whose real name was Barbara but whose parents thought she was just like a little doll) and Little Dicky; which didn't mean much to us as kids but is a riot now. I do hope that kid outgrew that name!  We all had a rude awakening when we went to school and found out that kids had "real" names.  I remember my younger sister coming home crying that kids at school were calling her names. When my mother asked what they were calling her, she replied with her "real" name.  She was not consoled when our mother told her that WAS her name.

So Halloween 1961 was unbelievably different from now. Like a galaxy far, far away. We suited up and headed out as soon at is was dark and we had eaten our dinner.  We were all forced to take along our younger siblings, which we did not want to do because, according to us older kids, they were all crybabies and would slow us down from our quest to snag the most candy possible. My cousin won the candy king title one year as he was older and allowed to go farther than the few blocks we were allowed on.  He went out early and hit all the houses and then went home and changed into a different costume and went back out again.  As I recall he bagged enough candy to last past Christmas that year.  We were all astonished! But we still managed to rake in enough sweet stuff to rot our teeth out entirely in three weeks. Ah, yes, those were the days.  Candy was brought home and sorted.  Not because our parents thought there might be razor blades in the apples (APPLES??!?? who wanted those anyway-we tossed them aside).  We culled through candy and hoarded our favorites first.  For me that consisted of any and all of the miniature chocolate candy bars. Least favorite candies went to one side (MaryJanes, squirrel nut zippers, bit-o-honey and candy corn for me)-those were to be traded later.  Our mother then made us throw out any candy that wasn't wrapped as she was afraid it might have unknown germs from other people's houses (that is a whole other blog unto itself) We then traded with our siblings to increase our odds of having something good to trade. The little kids weren't allowed to go to the trading as they just got the "baby" candy--lollypops and things they couldn't choke on. Mom made us give them our lollypops and she gave us the M&Ms and other "chokable" stuff. Which was fine with me as lollypops in general did not bring a good price in the trading wars. Tootsie Pops were good but the other pops, particularly the Saf-T-Pops with the looped handle made of twisted paper didn't bring diddly squat. You would be lucky to get anyone to even take them off your hands. If you were lucky you had a younger sibling to pawn them off on.

The older kids would then gather the day after Halloween to trade candy.  Now this sounds simple but I assure you that it was as complex as any market day in Istanbul or opening day on Wall Street.  We had some shrewd traders.  We would meet at a designated place, in our neighborhood it was the cul de sac at the end of the street, and everyone would bring their bags of candy.  We would sit in a circle and trading would begin.  Now you would not bring out all your candy and show it off. No--this was like poker.  You held back on some of the better stuff for later when the trading got harder and the prices went up. At first the trading was fairly easy.  If we were lucky one of the kids had an allergy to chocolate and had to trade out all their candy bars.  Chocolate candy bars were the favorites and brought the highest bids so most kids did not trade theirs easily.  Everyone would start by displaying their least favorite candy.  I put out my Mary Janes, Bit-o-Honey and Squirrel Nut Zippers.  I always knew at least one kid who liked one or more of those items and could usually make a good deal trading 2 or 3 of my least favorites for something I liked better, like Tootsie Pops.  They were a good deal as they were still considered in the "Lollypop" category (lowly lollypops) but I liked them and was always glad to get rid of the other things. In the hierarchy of candy the trading went like this:


Apples, Popcorn Balls or anything "homemade" in general.  Most moms didn't let us eat any of this stuff unless they knew whose house it came from and then it depended on their opinion of the mother at that house (i.e.: I wouldn't let my kids eat anything from _____'s house. She isn't very clean.)

Undesirable Candy:

Candy Corn or any variety of it (little candy pumpkins, etc.) - no one really liked this so if you had any you were probably stuck with it. If you were lucky to have a kid who liked it you either traded some for something he didn't like or kept it until it got to hard to eat anyway.
Lollypops - you would have to give up 3 or 4 lollypops in exchange for one piece of a mid-range candy. Most kids had plenty of lollypops so they were hard to move.
Black Licorace, including Good-N-Plenty - not very popular but there was always one or two kids who liked it and would trade it off of you if you were game.

Mid-Range Candy:

These were the staple of trading days.  These candies were the ones that were not as popular and could be traded for something you liked better.

MaryJanes, Bit-O-Honey, Sugar Daddies or Sugar Babies, Turkish Taffy, Squirrel Nut Zippers--these were candies that I didn't really care for but could manage to trade off fairly well.
Red Licorace including shoestring, twists,  or bottle caps.
Candy Dots - the little colored dots on paper backing.
Kits, B B Bats, JuJubes,
Necco Wafers - we used to use them to play church with as we would use them as the "host" in the communion (there were alot of Catholic families back then) This is also probably worth a separate blog itself.
Caramels-obviously left over from making caramel apples

High End Candy:

Chocolate candy bars - Milky Ways, Mars bars, Reese's cups, Snickers, Sky Bars (always one of my favorites), M & Ms - plain or peanut (that was the only kind they made back then), Peppermint Patties, Malted Milk balls, Nonpariels, MalloMars, Reese's peanut butter cups (they didn't make the pieces back then)

Ah, the trading would go fast and furious until everyone was traded out. We would then trudge home with our sacks of candy and dream of the next holiday---Christmas! and more candy!

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