Featured, For Boomers
BY Jack Boardman - Guest Author
“Trick or Treat, Money or Eats” It's been a very-long time since I made that call at every neighbor's home. It wouldn't have been quite so long had my parents not banned the “Money of Eats” part early in my Halloween-urchin career; they felt it sounded too much like begging. Come to think of it...no matter which version of the chant is used, it still sounds like begging.
Both my parents were adults during the Depression and experienced Hobos and Tramps coming to the door and begging for food; Hobos would offer to work for the food, according to my dad, Tramps would not. Both would ride the rails dodging the railroad cops looking for work or an easy touch.
Some of my friends would dress up in old clothes and put coal or charcoal on their faces to look like a hobo or tramp; come to think of it, that may be where that popular kid-costume came from. I was never allowed to dress as a hobo; I had to settle for being a ghost or maybe the Lone Ranger with a pair of chrome six-guns and a mask.
In Saint Paul during the fifties, there were a gazillion kids on every block and parents seldom accompanied their kids; little ones were assigned to bigger ones. The thought being there was safety in numbers. I wonder if they considered that the “trick” part of the chant as an activity was learned by the young kids from the older kids? The tricks were pretty simple and relatively harmless, writing “Boo” on a car window with a bar of Ivory soap was considered great fun...unless we were caught, of course.
Now when we prepare for this evening's little (and some not-so-little) urchins, as every year, we never really know how many to expect; some years very few knock at the door and some years they arrive in hoards...leaving little if any treats left over for us to enjoy.
Maybe it's the quality of the treats. Years we stock up on the good stuff are years of the hoards and years we stock up on ho-hum candy that I don't like, very few show up and we're left with a stock-pile of candy I don't like.
This year we have both!