The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 22, 2013

Ready for Halloween?

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

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

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 there 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 cleanup.  

We younger kids were hardly aware of the holiday, except for the costume party at school, where we  donned our costumes in the cloakroom 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. No one even considered having a costume that was real grotesque and awful like some of them today. It was just a fun time for everyone involved and did not offend anyone.  

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 Halloween time that makes me hungry for anything pumpkin — muffins, bread, pie, fudge, soup or these wonderful soft cookies:

Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup chopped nuts

3⁄4 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugar, pumpkin, egg and vanilla until smooth. Mix dry ingredients and stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chips. Drop on cookie sheet and bake in 350- degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. (Watch carefully, you don’t want them to get too brown.)

Have  a safe and enjoyable Halloween and make some happy memories.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.