Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloweens Past and Present

  Halloween fell on a weekend twice back in the days when I was a trick-or-treater. On both occasions, 1959 and 1964, it was a Saturday.
  At age 8, I was a bit too young, even by that era's much-relaxed standards, to venture outside our cul-de-sac neighborhood, so it did not matter that I had much more daylight in which to go trick-or-treating. Five years later, as an eighth-grader, I'd pretty much aged out of doing it, though I did escort my two younger brothers and a couple of their friends to other neighborhoods where people were rumored to be giving out full-sized candy bars and other generous treats. At those few houses, I joined my siblings and happily accepted a Hershey bar or a Milky Way.
  The intervening Halloweens, however, were a race to get to as many houses as I could before it got dark. And since that was before the days when Daylight Savings Time ended after Halloween, there wasn't much time between the end of the school day and sundown.
  I do recall 1962 when, as a sixth-grader, I opted out of taking the bus home. Instead, I went up and down as many blocks as I could between school and my house, arriving home at dinner time with a massive assortment of candy, snacks, and an assortment of loose change. If only Halloween had been on the weekend that year; I could have collected enough treats to last me till Easter!

  So, here we are, half a century later and Halloween is again on a Saturday. As we have done every year since we moved in in 1974, we give out comic books. In the '70s and '80s, when DC still published books like Ghosts, The Witching Hour, and House of Mystery, those were the ones we handed out. As those type of books were cancelled, I switched to the super-hero books that tied into cartoon series.  These days, I've got a nice pile of vintage Disney comics for the younger kids and Archie books for the older ones.
  But, unlike the days of my youth, and even those weekend Halloweens when my kids were young, the trick-or-treaters have been few and far between. I was expecting armies of them before I had a chance to finish my morning coffee. Instead, the first one did not arrive until almost 2:00 p.m.
As I write this, almost two hours later, there have been maybe a dozen in all.
  With the exception of one boy, who proclaimed, "No candy? I don't want any books!" those who have knocked on the door have been happy with their treats. (And most of them even recognize what a comic book is, unlike the lad a few years ago who yelled to his parents waiting at the foot of the driveway, "He gave us mail!") Whether there is a herd of them waiting to descend remains to be seen, but right now, with nightfall only a couple of hours away, they don't have much more time than they would have if they'd been in school all day.

Post-Halloween Update: Shortly after I posted this entry, a surge of kids, with a commensurate allotment of parents, arrived. In the space of half an hour, there were about thirty trick-or-treaters at the door. But after that wave, there were three more in the next two hours.

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