Sunday, October 26, 2008


I live on a street that's just filthy with kids. Driving down it some days is like running an obstacle course. Boarders, bikers, street hockey players and roving packs of wannabe Paris and Lindsays with their accompanying packs of untethered purse dogs. So Halloween is a big deal around here.

A week in advance, the place is already beginning to look like something from the Universal backlot. We've got front lawn graveyards, Mummy heads on pikes, skull covered lampposts and one thoughtful dad has even constructed a gigantic spiderweb that encases their house. I'm told the scaled to match spider is going up on the roof today.

People didn't make as much of Halloween when I was a kid. Oh, us kids did, for in an era pre-dating store bought costumes you had to spend a few days making your own and they had to be special. We also didn't trend to super-heroes and horror movie characters in that regard. Most of us became pirates or Mounties or princesses.

I recall one year where me and about six of my eight year old friends headed out as a bunch of drunken old ladies with grapefruit or coconut stuffed bras, big frilly hats, feather boas and brown bagged wine bottles. I'm sure that was much to the embarrassed chagrin of our mothers. But as we loudly reeled from one house to another, I doubt if anybody found us politically incorrect or in need of a child psychologist.

In the small town I grew up in, we also precisely mapped our routes. The candy collections weren't much different from those Kids get today, but there were edible bonuses that have long since disappeared and even then needed to be grabbed up before they were gone. Things like home-made fudge, peanut brittle or our holy grail -- the popcorn ball -- a foil wrapped softball sized ball of popcorn stuck together with a candy coating.

It could take you a heavenly hour to eat a popcorn ball and a couple of hours of brushing later to get the last of it out of your teeth. I actually think they were finally outlawed by the dental profession.

Nobody decorated their houses then, beyond a carved pumpkin or two and my dad almost got run out of town after going one step further.

We lived in a big two storey house on the edge of town that you had to walk up a long tree-lined drive to reach. My brother and I were coming back home one Halloween night, pillowcases heavy with booty, when a gang of kids came screaming from our yard in full retreat. One of them paused long enough to holler a warning "D-d-d-don't go up there! It's haunted!!!"

We arrived to discover that my old man and one of his buddies had fashioned a ghost out of a bedsheet and chicken wire and were swooping it down on the unsuspecting costumed tykes from an upstairs window.

Much hilarity ensued until Ronnie the cop arrived. They all sat in Ronnie's car for a long time even though my dad had told him he had the best costume of the night.

I kinda of wish there was some way to hold off the current trend in Halloween decoration until the big night. Imagine being a kid coming home from school past the same boring houses, changing into your Spiderman suit and then opening the door to one suddenly yawning street long "Gauntlet of Death"!

But just in case they're jaded by the time they get to my house, I've got a little unexpected treat planned. I've got my own creation, but it was inspired by a guy named Mark Gervais and you can buy or download your own store bought version here.

Just carrying on the family tradition. Enjoy your Sunday.

1 comment:

Yasmine said...

Wow..! I am pinching few Halloween outdoor decoration ideas from this post. Thanks…