Halloween is definitely a holiday that has a permanent home in the memories of American kids. I’m not sure how many of us remember a specific costume or a specific party, but the holiday itself…. that was something that caught our imaginations for weeks if not months in advance. Everyone discussed costume ideas or whether this would be the year to buy a costume.
I think a lot of that remains today. Just this week a friend told me her daughter changed what she wanted to be three times. It is a lot for a pre-schooler to settle on the perfect costume for the big day. But I can help but remember how different some of the experiences were too. This photo will tell you what I mean…. it is of my older siblings and I in the 1970s.
What I Remember Most About Halloween
The 1970s Halloween was a chance to live life to the fullest as kids. For us, we would go out early and walk forever. One of our parents would usually go with us while the other may hang out at home to pass out candy to every one who came. We would run from house to house with such excitement, talking about what our favorite treats were so far and who we thought had given us the best candy.
Parents (ours and those of other kids running around) would stay on the sidewalks, chatting about whatever it was grownups would talk about. We’d almost forget they were there til someone forgot to say thank you or one or us got too far ahead or behind the others.
The streets were crawling with kids just like us and laughter was heard everywhere. Now and then, someone would have a few decorations in their yard or on their porch, maybe put a black light in the porchlight…. We’d scream with delight!
We’d talk about the people who offered us full-sized candy bars and how they must be rich or just really like being nice to kids. And we’d stand in awe when someone had small bags containing treats ready for each and every one of us.
I can remember using some of the bags made for trick or treating but also remember our haul getting so heavy those would rip and we used pillowcases instead.
Occasionally we’d get on our bikes or in the car to go to a family friend who lived a little bit further away. Those friends nearby and further away would sometimes do special treats like popcorn balls…. man I wish I had some of those popcorn balls…..
When we got home, we would go to our corners, spill out the candy and squeal with excitement about the pieces we were most excited about maybe count the total number of pieces, maybe counting just the chocolate bars. It wouldn’t take long til we’d start negotiating trades for the candies we were less thrilled about.
The next few days would include candy in our lunches, treats in the afternoon and dread of the day when the only pieces left were the generic taffys in black and orange wrappers. At least for me.
Drawbacks to 1970s Trick or Treating
I am betting that just looking at the photo you have a few things in mind that just don’t look at all on scale with today’s Halloween! Well, here are some of the things that stand out as negatives to a 1970s Halloween celebration to my recollection (much of it photo aided LOL)
- Handmade costumes were low budget. Markers, scissors and an old bedsheet. Face paint was only lipstick.
- Store bought costumes weren’t that creative either… really bad mask that you couldn’t breathe if you wore it so you’d wear it on top of your head til you got to the porch to ring the bell!
- The weather usually took a turn for the worst then too. I’m guessing that princess costume would have looked different without corduroy pants under it!
- Baby costumes weren’t a thing… I have a little sister who was no doubt in the house when this was taken. My parents didn’t dress her up and they didn’t dress our pets either. While we are at it, there weren’t family costumes either.
- My childhood was when we suddenly had to start inspecting candy from strangers. I remember my parents sitting with us all as we looked at what we got and we wondered whether there were really people who would put razorblades or needles in candy.
- I can’t remember Halloween ever moving to the weekend for convenience, but I can remember thinking weekend Halloween was awesome cause we could stay out a little longer!
We had one helluva time despite all of that!
What are some of your Halloween memories?
This is the first of the month-long series of me sharing various memories…. some happy, some insightful, some from home or far away. All of the posts will link back to each other through the month of memories tag! Hope you enjoy them!
Deb Johson says
I am a child of the 70’s and this was spot on for my memories of Halloween. I lived “in the country” so getting to run around town was always a highlite.
My parents had an unfinished basement for several years so had a few fun Halloween parties. Dunking for apples, fortune teller, freaky food, and my little brother in charge of spiders on a string that would come down on the kids. Bless my parents for letting us do this?
Janice Person says
We used to do a “carnival” labor day weekend to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy…. dunking for apples was always a favorite!
Love this! We had a dress up box and a few props that we’d rotate through the 5 of us. Hobo, scarecrow, farmer, ghost…very seldom did we have store bought costumes. When we did, the masks with the thin elastic band, two small nose holes, and odd shapes eye holes were usually abandoned by the third house. Growing up in Minnesota, we always tried to put our costumes on over our snowmobile suits or coats, and we always ate chili and caramel apples. 🙂
Janice Person says
We were hobos pretty often too!
Laurel Regan says
Love this post! I was a child in the 1970s and so many of the recollections you shared struck a chord with me. Thank you for the walk down memory lane!
Janice Person says
Great to know! Starting this new series of memories has me venturing into some different areas… hope the stories are engaging and prompt similar memories for others cause I loved flashing back to the 70s and Halloween for this!