From my earliest days, I‘ve always felt a certain “ownership” of Halloween. 

After all, it’s my birth date.

From my earliest recollection, Halloween has always scared me. Even to this day, I have no truck to watch scary television or movies nor enjoy horror stories.  Why give time to something that makes you feel uncomfortable?

The first Halloween that I recall was when I was perhaps two or three years old. We were living in Macon in an old Victorian house. People had tried to explain to me about Halloween, telling me how much fun I would have.

Yeah, sure.

What I remember on Halloween night is that lots of children kept ringing our door bell, and I along with someone else (parents? Don’t know.) would go to the door, and see all kinds of goons and goblins dressed out in horrible looking masks and outfits and with makeshift instruments. 

Now recognize that this was before World War II, and that the costumes were not the sophisticated outfits that parents pay dearly for these days. These were homemade outfits that took on a sense of originality. I don’t remember a single outfit, but somewhere lurking in the background is a sense that some of these creatures were dressed in either sheets or overalls. Patchy overalls. Holes in the clothing. And carrying pitchforks and canes and other instruments in their hands. Some had their faces painted in disgusting ways.

And they all chanted the same thing: “Trick or treat?”  What was that?

In addition, they were acting too, appearing really scary to my young mind. And yes, I was apprehensive, up to the point that, pretty soon, I really didn’t care much about going to the door again when that bell rang. Yet someone seemed to coax me to the door again and again, and each time, I didn’t come back the happy young boy that I should have been in that day. I came back frightened.

All this worked into the night. I remember having dreams that night about those ragamuffins coming to our porch.

Let me tell you another aspect about Halloween: If I never see another orange, white and brown Halloween cake, it will be too soon for me. I may have enjoyed it at one time, but I consider that now pretty much a cliché, and just don’t want them around. Had enough. 

Back to the tricking and treating. In those olden days, those working Halloween meant business. If some family failed to produce the treats that these creatures were wanting, that family paid … in having their windows soaped. This was a routine from kids of those days, soaping business windows, cars parked on the street, and sometimes house windows in this outburst of mischief.  

One positive note of the modern day Halloween: the delightful story of Linus of Peanuts fame in the Halloween patch, awaiting the Great Pumpkin. The late Charles Schulz has given us a happy, lively, almost believable story of the ever-faithful Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin coming “if he believes enough.”  Charlie Brown and the others may Trick or Treat or go to parties, but we can depend on Linus to be in that patch … awaiting.

May you have a happy Halloween. 

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Editor's Note: This story first published at GwinnettForum.com.

Image Credit: the photo of the Jack o' Lantern was created for the Holywell Manor Halloween celebration by Toby Ord via Wikipedia.org/Creative Commons.



Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.