Friday, October 31, 2014
Dried Corn and Bars of Soap
A quieter trick involved soaping windows. Kids would pilfer bars of soap from their closets or sinks at home. During the week before Halloween they roamed the streets of our community, stealthily crept onto porches, and rubbed the bar of soap across the windows. I don't remember that they wrote any messages or drew pictures. They just left scribbles and marks. My mom disliked the soap more than the corn because it was so difficult to remove. She determinedly cleaned the windows but I think I remember her once insisting that my sister help. (As if my sister had any control over the other kids.)
My mom would never have considered spending money on a pattern and fabric for a costume, nor taking the time to cut out and sew one. Consequently, our costumes were simple affairs: what we could make from clothes at home or from a trunk of old clothes in my grandmother's closet. The most common costumes were hobos, gypsies, clowns, or old women, but really, anything that made us look unlike ourselves worked. We hid our faces behind half-masks that covered our eyes and the tops of our noses. They wrapped around our faces, held in place by an elastic band that stretched around the backs of our heads.
There were only about a dozen homes on our street and only about 4 or 5 more streets in our village, each with as many or fewer homes than ours. Trick-or-treating was slim when I was a child. When I was 5 or 6 my mom walked with me to several houses and stood on the street while I walked up the steps and knocked on the doors. At every home the person who answered the door tried to guess who was behind the mask. If unsuccessful after about 3 or 4 guesses, we were asked to remove our masks and identify ourselves. We received a treat only after the person at the door knew who we were.
Our community was so small that we never collected much candy, but always I sorted mine: chocolate; other desirable-but-not-delicious candy; and the stuff I wouldn't eat (including chocolate with coconut or almonds). I can't remember but I doubt I was allowed to eat more than a few pieces a day.
When I was 10 or 11, I sometimes went trick-or-treating with a friend or two. But by that time throwing corn and soaping windows had completely gone out of style. I missed my chance.
Happy Halloween to you.
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