Thoughts from the Publisher | Oct. 27

This year there seems to be more local families decorating their abodes for Halloween than I have ever seen before. When I was a kid, it was rare to see any neighbors who took the time or spent the money to embellish their homes with ghosts or witches or other creepy décor. The most intricate Halloween adornments we’d usually see on our trick-or-treat routes were carved pumpkins created by inhabitants of the homes on whose porches the gourds were plopped.

We didn’t have fancy treat bags or elaborate costumes. After the age of 9 or so, our parents no longer accompanied us. Instead, we traveled in a group that included neighbor kids and school chums. Most of us carried home our loot in pillowcases, after, of course, we ate all the unwrapped candy that we knew our parents would throw away. And, as far as costumes went, we either made our own or one of our parents would go to the drug store and buy us a boxed outfit that included a mask that was nearly impossible to see out of, paired with a flimsy get-up that rarely resembled the picture on the front of the box.

I don’t know how other schools celebrated Halloween during those years, but at Signal Hill Elementary School we participated in a class-wide holiday parade. I have very little memories of what costumes were worn, except for one. My classmate Robin wore a “cigarette girl” outfit. I had never seen anything like it, and according to the shocked looks on all the teachers’ faces, I don’t think they ever had either– at least not on an elementary school pupil. Robin’s costume was a bit racy for those days, but I think she got away with it because her around-the neck-cigarette tray (complete with candy cigarettes) did a good job of hiding the full impact of said garment.

During the later ‘60s, I remember dressing up as a “flower child.” My outfit consisted of a floral headband, bellbottom pants and my own medium-length stringy blonde hair parted down the middle. As a reward to those neighbors handing out candy, I presented them with homemade flowers that I created myself out of construction paper and wire. I thought I was so cool.

Those memories are so sweet. I wish the same for today’s youngsters. Although many folks don’t allow their children to trick-or-treat the way we did, and instead take their kids to planned group parties at local parks or churches or private homes, those kids will still walk away remembering and will forever cherish the good times they had participating in Halloween happenings.

Courtesy Neena Strichart
Signal Hill Elementary School students participating in a Halloween parade on school grounds, circa early 1960s

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