The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

October 23, 2012

Fall festivals bring up fond memories

Are you ready for fall, with ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night?

Many churches celebrate fall festivals with wonderful chicken-noodle meals and craft sales. There are some people who do not wish to celebrate Halloween, believing it is a pagan festival. I certainly do not wish to offend anyone’s belief. But for those who feel it is just a fun time for kids and for grown-ups who play like kids, this article is for you.

Not a Halloween goes by that I don’t remember the fun times we had at Grandma’s Halloween parties. What fond memories. Everyone in the neighborhood was invited ... and came. Everyone, old and young, wore funny costumes they had concocted themselves. There were absolutely no ghoulish costumes that would have terrified little kids. They were just funny, original costumes made from whatever could be scratched up. Witches and ghosts were the scariest the costumes ever were.

One year, Grandma was a spooky ghost at her own party. When people arrived at their house and approached the door to knock, Grandma came around the house from behind the mulberry tree and nearly scared the daylights out of us kids. As scared as we were, we knew it was Grandma and giggled and giggled. What fun! She had as much, if not more, fun than anybody at her parties.

Old and young alike played traditional games like bobbing for apples, catching the apple on a hanging string, and all kinds of relays. There was always a “spook house,” which was nothing compared to the ones nowadays. Ours was made up of a table covered with plates holding things like cooked spaghetti, peeled grapes, and harmless, slimy things like that for us to identify while blindfolded. Of course, thoughts were planted in our minds about worms and cat eyes, etc. After a few years, we knew the tricks and passed the “fear” on to the little kids to scare them and bring them the same kind of suspense we had experienced. There was always a costume contest for the most original, and those people we could not identify. Some of those costumes were really creative.

Back then, treats were homemade popcorn balls (wonderfully and carefully made especially for us), apples, plain and rolled in caramel and nuts, or an occasional sucker or bubble gum. Now homemade treats are unacceptable, so we give out candy or pencils or other wrapped things. It is so fun to answer the door to the little goblins and hear their laughter and compliment them on their cute costumes.

I am so pleased that so many churches and businesses celebrate Halloween for our youngsters to keep them safe so they don’t have to go door to door in strange neighborhoods to collect goodies. They never know whose door it is. These public functions are enjoyable, and I think the kids really like the organized fun — and, of course, all that candy and stuff they get.

When I was a kid in the country, we didn’t trick-or-treat from door to door. We heard, after the fact, of mischief in town by “older boys” like turning over outhouses and blocking streets and possibly egging houses or the school, but no real harm was done and no one was hurt. Once, someone put a goat in the school gym, but I can never remember any real destruction of property. The day following Halloween, all those mischievous kids were out on the streets and lawns gathering up limbs and trash cans and scrubbing the school gym. I guess the fun was worth the clean-up.

We younger kids were hardly aware of the holiday, except for the costume party at school where we changed clothes in the cloakroom into our costumes and had popcorn balls or cupcakes to celebrate the day. We decorated the windows for autumn to have it pretty for the annual box supper to raise money for Christmas treats for everyone. The program always centered around the harvest theme.

It always seemed to rain on Halloween, just like it does now. And the weather always turned cold, so costumes had to be covered with coats, which took away some of the fun of dressing up. We never thought of Halloween as worshiping witches or ghosts or as sacrilegious. It was just a fun time for everyone involved. We made jack-o’-lanterns out of pumpkins we had grown ourselves. Early on, we had decided which one was special enough to be made into our jack-o’-lantern. It took all evening to remove the pulp from the pumpkin before it was carefully carved. We placed a candle in it for one evening only, and then we baked the pumpkins for pie or pumpkin fudge. We even enjoyed running the cooked pumpkin through the food mill to produce pulp.

From beginning to end, we loved pumpkin time. There is still something nostalgic about the fall of the year that makes me hungry for anything pumpkin: muffins, bread, pie, fudge, or soup.

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