Remember When: Halloween

Pumpkins

PumpkinsIt’s time to break out the candy corn, dust off the skeletons, and hang the spider webs. This week’s edition of “Remember When…” takes us down memory lane to, where else? Halloween.

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How was Halloween explained to you as a child? I remember being told the story of All Hallow’s Eve in elementary school music class while listening to Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain.” Does anyone else remember that?

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Laurilyn Witherup-Bailey has some elementary school Halloween memories that are funny now but at the time, maybe weren’t so amusing to her:

“I remember in elementary school always trying to stump the teachers, who had to guess which kid was underneath the costume.  One year, I had the bright idea of wearing a nylon stocking over my head underneath my hot, rubberized mask–so as to better fool whoever was peering into the mask’s eye holes.  We had to first parade around the school before the teacher could start to guess identities, and by the time we got back to the class I was so uncomfortable I was crying and begged the teacher to guess me first.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t understand me very well due to the nylon and the rubber mask (and probably my sobbing didn’t help), and she couldn’t offer a guess as to who I was, so I took off my costume without being called out. That was my one and only year with those rubberized masks.”

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Cole Camplese went to St. Columba. Their traditional Halloween parade was slightly different from Bloom Elementary:

“Every Halloween we had a parade around the parking lot. The deal with St. Columba was that we all had to dress up as our favorite Saint.  What that meant was that you would have something like 100 kids all dressed in white robes, rope belts, and wire hanger halos.  Everyone looked exactly alike. The memory makes me laugh even now as I type it. Imagine passing by and wondering what the heck was up with that! It had to have been the lamest way to celebrate Halloween.”

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Kristin Ziesloft-Camplese has fonder memories than her husband of selecting costumes. She writes:

“My mom made a lot of my costumes (for 5th grade I waddled around as a pumpkin), but on the off years, I remember going to Nichol’s or Ames and buying the entirely plastic, cheapo costumes.  Do you remember how they smelled? And they were in little boxes with clear fronts?”

I remember those, Kristin! Remember how they were stacked on the shelves in piles and you had to look at the top of each box, to see the mask and find out which costume it was? I had a clown and a Wonder Woman box costume, but I really wanted to be Batman…

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Once we got to the middle school, most of us who were artistically inclined got a chance at some point to paint a window uptown for Halloween. I can’t remember what my design was, but I know I was assigned the police station and was not happy about it. What’s the fun of “playing hooky” uptown all day if you’re going to be watched by “The Man?”

Jeremy Harvey drew a luckier lot:

“I remember we did this in middle school as part of Mr. Ryan’s art class… we got to go down during the school day in 8th grade. My brother Josh and I painted the window of Serruci’s pizza, if you remember where that was. By the end of the day, we were pretty pleased with the results. I think we painted a night scene with a pumpkin and black cat under a scary tree. It was spooky for sure!”

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Mia Kiefer offers these memories of her childhood Halloweens in Bloomsburg:

“My favorite memories included planning our costumes. We didn’t go to the store and buy them ready-made. We had a big trunk in the attic that contained all the costumes from Halloweens past. It was crammed full of scarves, hats, masks, pants, and piles of assorted other pieces. We would spend hours combining this and that until we had exactly the look we wanted. When we were all set, we’d start off–always with Mom or Dad following along. We only went to the houses of people we knew. We would never consider just going up and down the street outside our neighborhood like so many do today. Our neighbors would actually try to guess who we were and sometimes made us sing a song before we got our treat. Nobody worried about tainted candy or anything like that. We were safe and we had a great time.

Then we reached the age where we didn’t need our parents tagging along anymore. The costumes were forgotten and we thought we were the ‘baddest kids in town’ because we soaped a few windows and threw some corn at houses. And the neighbors didn’t disappoint–they would come to the door and flick the light on, acting like they were going to string us up. We’d hide in the bushes down the street, hoping they wouldn’t give chase.”

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And finally, not to be outdone, our resident Master Rememberer, Jack Edwards, remembers when Halloween was “like an offshoot of April Fool’s day:”

“You soaped windows, threw shelled corn kernels, and knocked on doors and then ran and hid. I think that’s long gone too. Today you’d get arrested or shot, and understandingly so. Within reason, it seemed to be allowed back then and was acceptable behavior on Halloween night.

One Halloween back in early the 1960s, I ventured up into Sherwood Village and met up with some friends for an evening of ‘Halloweening.’ My friend Ray Cronover kind of took charge — the man with the plan so to speak — and we walked the neighborhood looking for mischief to get into. Apparently, this wasn’t Ray’s first Halloween as PA State Police cruisers were circling by and close at hand. Ray knew each and every one of the officers on a first name basis!

All of a sudden, there it was, a house left unattended with the garage door open! ‘Let’s take all the stuff inside and put it on the roof!’ (Luckily, there was a ladder too.) Quickly, we worked as a team and Ray got up on the roof and arranged things where he thought they should go. Just as we stood back to observe our work, the S.W.A.T. team moved in. ‘Ray, you and your friends put all that stuff back right now and we won’t have to get your father involved.’ So, we did.

I sincerely miss my old friend Ray and those too few years of growing up in my hometown of Bloomsburg. I bet most people won’t remember, but Ray’s dad was head of the state police barracks on West Main for years and years. Maybe a lot of people won’t remember that, but I sure do.”

For more of Jack Edwards’ Halloween memories, follow this link.

To add your Halloween memories to the collection, add a comment below.

7 thoughts on “Remember When: Halloween”

  1. Speaking of Sherwood Village, I remember my first experience going out to soap windows and corn houses. We sneaked corn from a local field and stocked up on Ivory soap (the top choice for masterful soaping). I was only a freshman and was thinking I was so cool to be going out with the seniors (only because my friend’s brother was a senior). We went to to Mr Reynold’s house,then Supertendent of Central Schools, the older kids ran up and did the dirty work, I was chicken and hung back only to have a photographer jump out of the bushes and take my picture (a real deer in the headlights shot) which ended up on the front page of the Morning Press. I was grounded for months. Still to this day I will not use Ivory soap!

  2. I remember my Mom saying she was not feeling well but taking my older sister and younger brothers out trick or treating in Lightstreet. I think I was 8. The next day when we got off the school bus, the neighbor met us to take to her house. My Mom had my baby sister that day!( November 1) Now she tells me the walking helped her thru the labor but I imagine that was scary walking around the streets with 4 kids in tow. Back in the 60’s.. you didn’t talk about pregnancy to kids.

    1. Wow, Sally! Did you kids even know she was pregnant at the time? Good thing no one gave her a really good scare that night!

  3. Not that I would ever throw corn at anyone’s house, but didn’t river road by the covered bridge use to be an obliging field for gathering ammunition?

    1. Jen Ralston’s correct. Living in Rupert, just the other side of the Covered Bridge, we used to hit Streeter’s corn field to gather
      ears of corn. I can remember how sore our thumbs would be after shelling a bag full. I also remember one year, when the iron overpass was still in Rupert. It connected the lower section of Rupert with the upper section. It was close to what was the old Rupert Train Depot.
      Somebody got the bright idea to throw corn at cars as they passed.
      After a couple of times, the local yokel police came up and cussed us all out. Someone had picked up a black walnut or two, and threw it along with the corn, cracking a driver’s windshield.

      1. In Bloomsburg we’d get our corn from AGWAY. We didn’t really buy it, we’d climb up the back of the trucks as they were waiting at the loading dock and grab several ears and then race off on our bikes to find a place to take the corn off the cobs. We’d start a couple weeks before Halloween so we could build up the supplies. Seems crazy to even think about that going on today.

  4. Here’s a very particular Halloween memory: we used to live in an apartment building on West Main Street, the top of Scott town hill, and you had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to our front porch. On our basement level, which was the sidewalk level on the outside, there was a window displaying Ski-doos. The Ski-doo seller must’ve paid the landlord rent but I don’t know how effective the advertising was because we actually got more people each year knocking on our front door, thinking we sold Ski-doos, than we ever had Trick-or-Treaters.

    I guess unless you really wanted a new snow mobile, you weren’t properly motivated to explore the second floor.

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