Archived Story

COLUMN: Alternative to mischief

Published 12:26pm Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The observance of Halloween has changed for the better since local churches began offering trunk ‘n’ treats as an alternative to trick or treats a few years ago.

Nowadays, kids can easily fill their pumpkin containers with a wide variety of delicious sweets simply by making a visit to one or more church parking lots. There, car trunks are opened and children are invited to take a treat as they file by. They can accomplish their mission in a safe environment and get home at an early hour on October 31st.

Previously, kids would dress so as not be to be easily identified and roam the neighborhoods, hunting treats. Many were chauffeured by parents, traffic was congested and there was a threat of mischief if treats were not offered. In the aftermath, it was not unusual to see lawns littered, sidewalks defaced with chalk markings or cars rocked with raw eggs.

If you’re over 65 and lived in the country as a kid, you will remember that Halloween was just another day. Our makeup artistry and treat begging was reserved for New Year’s Eve serenading.

We’d dig into chests, closets and trunks in search of old clothing that would surely change our appearance and make us hard to identify. Some kids were lucky enough to have a Lone Ranger mask they ordered by mail for a dime and three Kellogg Corn Flakes box tops. A paper sack with cutouts for the eyes, nose and ears was another option. It was not uncommon for boys to wear dresses and girls to wear overalls.

Groups of kids, often shadowed by their parents or older siblings, would walk from neighbor to neighbor, knocking on doors and hoping to be invited in. Once inside, the object was to have the occupants guess the identity of their guests and send them on their way with something to eat. Since candy was a rare commodity, treats ranged from a piece of fried apple or peach pie, a homegrown fall apple, a teacake or a handful of parched peanuts.

Thinking back reminds me of how fortunate today’s kids are to have an alternative Halloween event. Taking home a container filled with candy from a church trunk ‘n’ treat would’ve made pre-WWII kids think Christmas came two months early.

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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