Back in the 1950s Halloween had become the sixth most profitable holiday for retailers. Halloween is now America’s second favourite holiday (following Christmas) for decorating. Many homes now elaborate Halloween decor with the latest rage being substantial inflatable decorations for their lawns. Retail stores fill their shelves with treats, Halloween masks and costumes as well as plastic pumpkins and other decorations.
Have you ever thought how different Halloween was in the 50’s compared to how it is now? Most parents of today would never think of letting their kids go out trick-or-treating without adult supervision. Many towns in America now designate specific times for trick-or-treating such as 5-7 pm, to discourage children from being out too late. Because many people who live in subdivisions may not know who their neighbours are, they do not feel it’s safe for their kids to go door to door. To keep children safe, a large number of churches in towns all over the U.S. have Halloween parties for kids. Halloween parties are also held in private homes so kids will not want to out trick-or-treating.
In the 50’s, people lived in a much safer world! They all worked hard carving their pumpkins convincing themselves it was the best one on the block. People lit them with candles and carried them out to their front porches. They knew all of the families in their neighbourhoods, and they all avoided anyone they thought was grumpy. Occasionally some of the older kids would soap windows, and they almost always got caught and ended up in trouble with their parents. Majority of parents allowed children to go trick-or-treating in their neighbourhood with their friends. Often, they were supervised by an older sibling who wanted them to hurry so they could attend a critical Halloween party themselves. Everyone knew how important it was to say thank you when we were given their treats. The last thing they wanted was a neighbour to report to their parents that they had terrible manners. Children in the 50s knew they would get in big time trouble if we did not follow the rules that had been set out for them. Sometimes when we ended up back at one of their own houses, we would all yell out together “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!”.
Children of the 50s didn’t have any of the sophisticated costumes that are available to today’s kids. Thier mothers cut holes in sheets for their eyes so they could see where they were going. They were entirely sure children would scare everybody out there with their ghostly attire. Some kids went trick-or-treating as hobos with a broom handle slung over their shoulders with a pillowcase attached to it to carry their candy in. Other popular homemade costumes were witches, scarecrows and clowns. Of course, they didn’t have fancy Halloween bags to carry our loot in – most of them had pillowcases. Homemade popcorn balls and candied apples made by their neighbours posed no threat to them. They did not have to worry about such things as razor blades in apples.
Once again, many people reflect on how lucky they were to have grown up in the 50’s. They had many cherished memories of safe and fun Halloweens when they were growing up. Oh yes, there is much to be said for the simpler times!