Hallowe’en Memories

halloween-wallpaper-large006[1]Whiling visiting my mother at the seniors home last weekend, we started talking about Hallowe’en. As is common with Mom these days, she’s at her best while reminiscing. She reminded me that when I was a kid in the sixties, a number of the neighborhood moms  would make popcorn balls and rice krispie squares to hand out. My mother made a big batch of fudge, and my sister and I would help her place four or five pieces in little paper bags.

My sister and I, and our friends, would spend days making costumes (few of us could afford store-bought anything in those days) carving pumpkins, and figuring out the most efficient routes in our neighborhood. There were no townhouse or condo complexes where we lived, just detached homes, so we planned carefully.

Pillowcases in hand, we scurried from door to door. It was exhilarating and exhausting. After a couple of hours, our pillowcases would be full and  heavy. In those days, it never occurred to us to look for contaminated candy. We ate what we wanted with abandon. But then things changed.

Needles, or some other contaminant, began appearing in candy in other areas of the city. By the time I became a parent twenty-five years later, Hallowe’en came with plenty of cautions…Sort through candy carefully. Don’t eat anything homemade. Don’t go to doors alone. Adult supervision became practically mandatory. Fireworks were banned in some areas, due to accidents and horrific things done to small animals. Somehow violence had permeated what I once thought of as a completely safe evening.

I’m not sure if all the cautions rubbed off on my kids, but they were never big fans of knocking on strangers’ doors to ask for candy, Nor did they like to be scared. So we opted for the malls, which opened for trick-or-treating from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, where the focus was on fun rather than being scared.

These days, my kids are grownups who no longer live at home. We still live on the same hilly street where they were raised. It takes over thirty steps to reach our front door, some of which can be slippery in the rain. On a good night, the most trick-or-treaters I ever had was twenty. New row houses and townhouse complexes have been built the next street over, so I’ve placed myself on a Halloween hiatus.

If I become a grandparent, perhaps the ritual will resume. If it does, I’ll be there, ready to help, and to share stories of the Hallowe’ens I fondly remember.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and security work inspired me to write the Casey Holland transit security novels set in Metro Vancouver. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

11 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Memories”

  1. The children in Spain don’t go door to door and never did. It is only recently that they have begun to celebrate Halloween. They dress up for school and there are parades and parties for the kids at local restaurants, malls and clubs. Then there are organized fireworks! That is new to me as we didn’t have fireworks on the prairies at Halloween.

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    1. Interesting, Darlene. I’m curious as to why they began to celebrate Halloween. Is this due to North American influence? We’ve always had fireworks in Metro Van., as far as I remember, but I didn’t realize that it wasn’t practiced in other areas of Canada until recently.

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      1. Yes, they now watch American TV and read about Halloween in books. The Spanish people love to dress up and celebrate anyway so they have adopted it. Nov 1 is a national holiday in Spain as it is All Saints Day so it works out well. When I moved to BC I was shocked to see fireworks at Halloween.

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  2. Yes, I remember those days—real taffy apples, homemade fudge, popcorn balls, rice krispie squares! It’s sad how times have changes. In the realm of nostalgia, those were better days.

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  3. I too remember popcorn balls and candy apples before the worry of needles and razor blades. We knew which neighbours offered the best treats and raced to get a sample before they ran out. When I moved to the west coast, I was surprised to hear fireworks at Halloween, rather than on Canada Day. Funny how those small differences between provinces surprised me. Though the traditions change, I know each generation builds their own memories that will become their “good old days” soon enough. Cheers!

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  4. Hi Debra – I’m glad you left a comment on my blog which led me to your blog. So thrilled to find another Canadian blogger and you’re a mystery writer! I enjoy reading mystery novels so I’ll be binge reading your blog to learn more. I’m not into Halloween but I remember the pillowcases full of candies 🙂

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    1. Hi Natalie, yes it’s great to meet another Canadian. I was born in Toronto, but have lived most of my life here in BC. And yes, I’ve been reading and writing mysteries most of my life. A passion, you might say. It’s a pleasure to meet you!


  5. I remember the Red Hand houses in the U.S., do you? They were the houses designated where kids could run to if in eminent danger. We were told if there was a sign with a Red Hand in the window we didn’t even have to knock — just go in like we lived there. There were even TV commercials for it — back in those still innocent times when no one thought a Red Hand house might the ONE a kid shouldn’t go into…

    What has happened to us, that no one can be trusted anymore — especially with kids? I am thinking we have had a total loss of moral compass…

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