Halloween Hangover Memories– Linda Knight Seccaspina
In the 50s and 60s when I grew up in Cowansville, Quebec socks were darned, baths shared, kids roamed wild, and we licked the cream off the paper tops of milk bottles. As a kid, my mother and I spent the entire month of October, being excited for Halloween and costumes were planned. There was happiness in the air Halloween night with lots of “thank you,” and “please come again” as doorbells rang and the words “Trick or Treat” were heard in the air.
I don’t think in those days that we got that much candy at home so the biggest pillowcases we had came out for the anticipated haul. Our neighbourhood was full of families up and down Albert Street, so we would get apples, Tootsie Roll pops and some paper bags full of candy. Most of the kids that lived on Albert Street climbed the big hill to William Street first. Word on the street was “the best candy in town” was located there. It was the first place I ever saw treat-size chocolate bars, and you could barely move because there were so many children.
My grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight was not like anyone else. She would have what was called: The Halloween Buffet. She had trays of marshmallow cookies and all sorts of things that parents would advise about taking these days. She would fawn her hands over the table almost like a Price is Right model to all the trick and treaters on South Street.
In 1962 I officially became a Beatnik at the age of 11. There were no official notices, no immediate black clothing; I just got up one morning and started to write bad poetry, and that was that. The primary inspiration was the fact that my father said that Jack Kerouac was a bad influence on young people, and that was enough for me.
That year my Halloween costume was a green wool mohair sweater that barely covered my derriere, thick red tights, and a red beret. Yes, I was dressed as part of the Beat Generation. As one of my friends said it was Halloween and everyone was entitled to one good scare– and I was it he said. It was that time of year that there was a great chill in the air and sometimes it rained, and other times snow challenged us. However, most of us wore a coat over our costume, but I remember never wearing a coat with that Beatnick costume. If I remember it was basically just a sweater, tights and no pants. It was definitely the costume without dignity.
High school came and it was now that part of my life where I wanted to be accepted. Unfortunately fitting in on Halloween included toilet paper, soap and shaving cream. We teepeed quite a few houses with one ply and eggs were thrown. I knew repenting later would not cure mischief, so I declined to participate after that. Thankfully nowadays, deer destroy the carved pumpkins, and eggs are hopefully being celebrated as part of a local food drive.
Nowadays kids seldom know the past joys of trick or treating we enjoyed. Along with non-flammable costumes they only accept gluten free, non GMO, and locally sourced candy. There’s no “App” for the past to portray the scary plastic costumes of witches, vampires or ghouls of days gone by.
When I was attending Cowansville High School we would get a free morning pass to attend All Saints Day services at our local churches the day after. The reality of it all was a lot of us were tired from Halloween the night before, and it was a good way to be “out of focus” for an hour or two. While the drone of the minister’s voice carried through Trinity Anglican Church, there were some of us fast asleep in the back pews.
It took a long time to go through that bag of Halloween candy. By the end of November there was nothing left except those hard taffy kisses wrapped in orange and black wax paper. I can’t remember anything like the Pumpkin Spice flavour to keep the memories of October alive. Now I hear we might even have Pumpkin Spice Xanax for your seasonal anxiety.
Once upon a time, when Halloween came it seemed a great excuse to watch horror movies and eat candy. Now, as the last leaves fall we watch Pumpkin Spice say its last goodbyes and say hello to Eggnog and Gingerbread Lattes and the latest scare fest on Netflix. Gone may be the memories of tomorrow but never stop be-leafing. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back soon– I’m actually changing mine back to when I was 11 and the era of no pants. I’ve heard your pants won’t get too tight if you don’t wear any.