By Bob Hamill
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I remember my brothers and sisters getting ready for best night ever, as soon as we got out of school. Most of the costumes, we would make ourselves out of an old steamer trunk in the basement filled with magical garments and things. I don’t know where that trunk came from but each year it seemed to get bigger with better stuff.
While having a store bought outfit was financially out of the question, I do recall my mom gearing up for this night making costumes for us, just so she could rid herself of her nine screaming home monsters only to be replaced by a steady stream of someone else’s monsters begging for the same candy we just dropped off minutes before.
There was never a official starting time but we wanted to make the most of each precious minute we had. Before leaving, all chores had to be finished and it better be right as we would be detained another ten minutes for each infraction. Now mom wasn’t going to send her pirates and spacemen out with an empty stomach. Every Halloween night would be the same menu, tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Talk about comfort food! That was it ultimate. All of us fought for the burnt cheese that seeped out of the sandwich. Dishes were done in record history time. Just because you were dressed like a princess, you still had to do your chores.
Checklist; Costume isn’t too lose. Make sure you can see. Get the biggest pillowcase we could find, no need for flashlights as we didn’t want them to weigh us down. Cars were extra careful that night. “Ready, Set Go!” and we were off. There is a strategy for a successful Trick Or Treat. First go out as far as you are allowed and work your way back. When full, rush home dump all goodies on the table and get out again as fast as you could. My mother invented the dump idea. She thought if there was something she didn’t want us to have she would give it to someone else. Our neighborhood had to be best for trick or treaters as in Philadelphia, there’s a lot of row homes. If you don’t know what that is, go out and rent “Rocky”. For us It meant less time and distance between houses before getting a lot of loot.
We went out in teams of three and looked out for each other. Almost all the lights on the neighbors porch were lit. Even the stores along Torresdale Ave. would give something. The bank had a large pickle jar filled with pennies, nickels, dimes and an occasional quarter. We could stick our hand in once and that was it, no second chances. The bakery had fresh brownies. On a good night we would have three large brown bags half filled with no problems. And then one year, it was reported: razor blades, drugs, bugs and other unimaginable crimes against children. Now, there’s Halloween parties and gatherings put on by churches and community centers. It’s fun but the kids of today will never know.
I will be in the Halloween spirit as my best friend Phillip Jones and I are continuing a five year tradition of showing up as Laurel and Hardy. Phillip has recently been the Grand Marshall of the Stan Laurel festival in Ulverston, England and the Oliver Hardy birthday party in Harlem, Ga. Thursday and Saturday Morning we’ll be taking pictures with guests at the Blackwood Morning Variety Show located in the Smoky Mountain Opry, starting at 9:15 a.m. Then look for us at The Island, Saturday October 31 somewhere around 9 p.m. If you see us please snap a photo, say hello and have a fun Halloween.