Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween When It Was Dangerous


I fear Halloween has become a rather pale imitation of my youthful super-holiday. Why, when I was a kid (here the young folk yawn and look at their watches) we had a REAL Halloween. The night before was called "Beggar's night" and almost everybody gave out candy to neighborhood kids who would be going to South Gate park for the festival where there was a dangerous bonfire, greased pole climbing contest, carnival booths and free hot dogs and hershey bars to local kids. There was a grand halloween costume judging as squirts paraded around the piled bon-logs and in 1949 I won like third prize and still have the plaque in my bedroom. I was a devil! After the pole climb (Buck Whitney won it one year) all the little ones crowded into the Auditorium to watch horror movies like the Mummy, Dracula or Frankenstein. Yes, they did have electricity and we acted up terribly, getting thrown out several years. Before the films star ted local young teens and pre-teens tottered around outside puffing Lucky Strikes and taking pulls of brandy or gin out of Mum's deodorant squeeze bottles. Even back then girls took the holiday as an excuse to dress like a whore. My young loins were on fire in 1958 when I saw Jean Lowe wearing red lipstick and fishnets!
Still, the Knowlton boys and I set out at dusk on Halloween covering like eight city blocks. We filled a duffle bag with candy and if we got a box of raisins it went straight into the gutter. Trick or treating in the 50's almost always featured the adults fully skunked sitting, smoking cigs and slurring out demands to others to "come see this kid, he's fucking mummy! Oh excuse my language." We didn't trick or treat, we WORKED those streets. Plus, if I had a big haul when I was little I had to hide the good stuff (snickers, 3 Muscateers, any Hershey bars, Look, Sugar Babies etc.) I had to hide it from my brother. He would take a favorite candy and fart on it, no kidding. Poor families like the Knowltons had a big, smelly box of hand me down Halloween costumes which were worn dozens of times but in my house we made our own and indeed I won best costume at my grammar school three years running. I had a jump on West Hol as one year I dressed as a woman. Posted by Picasa


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