Hubby and I purchased around $25 worth of Halloween candy last week. We happened to be in Costco to stock up on toilet paper and coffee and nuts, and since we never get out of the store without forking over at least $100, we decided we might as well buy the candy earlier this year than we normally do and then hide it. Trick or treating was something I learned about after I moved away from the south. Where I grew up, we never heard of begging for treats; our tradition was a Halloween Carnival at school, and believe me we didn’t miss a thing.
The whole front of the school was lit up like a Carnival. There you would find the Country Store, the Fishing booth, the Apple Bobbing tub, or the Haunted House. Even the adjacent lunchroom was decorated with orange and black crepe paper streamers and the counter set up with hot apple cider or coffee and tea for sale, alongside cupcakes and cookies and other baked delicacies, where the adults gathered to drink, eat, and chat.
The year I helped out in the Country Store, I remember single-handedly, as the “school artist” of the time (when you attend such a small school, it’s easy to be the big frog in the pond, my class had a total of 7 people), painted the backdrop of the General Store that included the stereotypical cartoon character Snuffy Smith, his wife Loweezy, their baby Tater, nephew Jughaid, and neighbors Elviney and Lukey and the rest of the Barney Google crew. I was so proud of my accomplishment. Too bad none of us had cameras at the time. Now I have only the snapshot my memory provides, and it’s quite faded and unfocused in a lot of areas.
During Carnival evening most of the kids (me included) found time eventually to scoot around to the back of the school yard where everything was dark and scarey, where the big boys hung out behind the wood-shed where they’d pass a cigarette around to share, and where we younger ones chased each other. Everybody knew the one who chased you was usually the one who “liked” you, and that was very exciting.
Invariably reports of PDAs (public displays of affection) reached the principal before the end of the evening, and the next day there would be a special assembly for all grades (K-through-12) where he always announced there would be no more “scattering to the back of the school during Carnival.” Soon to follow would be government produced films on how to behave towards the opposite sex, maybe even a personal hygiene documentary thrown in, too. But somehow, by the time next Carnival rolled around the rule would have been forgotten, and we simplly graduated to doing bolder and bolder bidding in the dark back of the school yard where the swings were.
I have mixed feelings about Halloween; I can take it or leave it. There was enough fun with the carnival booths, and there was enough excitement and adventure in the dark back yard of the school house to provide ample thrills. We never worried about tainted treats or apples with razor blades buried in them. Another plus was that our old fashioned Carnival earned money that resulted in end-of-the-year class trips for every grade in our country school that took us places that some of us would never have been able to go on our own–the beaches, lakes, zoos. A lot of the poorer kids didn’t get to go out much, only to school or to visit relatives, to church on Sunday with maybe an occasional funeral thrown in.
I read something in the paper this morning that made me realise we prepared too well for Halloween Trick or Treat this year. It seems the local LDS wards have taken to skipping Trick or Treat in favor of “tail gate” treats in the parking lots of the local churches. That would explain, then, why our tricksters here only number about 30, as compared to over a hundred in other places we’ve lived. But that’s okay. We only buy the kind of candy we like anyhow. Just in case.