Friday, October 31, 2008

Old fashioned halloweens are missed

Just about thirty or so years ago, when I was a little kid, Halloween was something special. I can remember trick or treating in the late seventies and the early eighties and coming back with sacks full of candy and other goodies. My father usually took me and a friend or two trick or treating. We would hit all neighborhoods in town, and come back with huge amounts of treats. My favorite stop was the Pruitt Funeral Home in Honea Path, which at the time was located in a spooky old house. Mrs. Pruitt would have a bag of candy and some sort of trinket to hand out. One trinket that stands out in my memory is a back scratcher shaped like a skeleton arm with Pruitt Funeral Home stamped on it. Trick or treating rivaled Santa and the Easter Bunny. People back then were often kind and eager to put a smile on a child's face with a bit of candy.

A lot has changed over the decades since my childhood. Halloween has become a controversial night. Some adults have handed out tainted candy, something unheard of just 30 years ago. Religious groups have attacked the holiday and some churches urge their members to not allow trick or treating by their children. Others are more relaxed, and simply urge children to dress as biblical figures. Businesses have gotten into the day and offer their own treats to children, of course while promoting their wares to the parents.

Also, since my childhood, those dreaded Halloween horror movies came out. I have always thought those movies were silly and more than once found myself laughing out loud at them. However, those movies, and other changes in the culture shifted Halloween from a fun night for kids into a dark, sinister day on the calender.

It is all so different than my childhood. Now, adults see the day as a night to "party" or to go see some slasher movie. Parents carefully target where they kids trick or treat, not trusting the folks in the community any longer. Some parents even fear the day as it might bring "the devil" into their children's' lives.

I feel sorry for little kids today. Most of them don't know the fun it is to have your dad drop you and friends off at one end of the street and meet you at the other end as you and your friends "trick or treat" people who often were kind and eager to participate in the fun of the night. As fear and mistrust seems to now dominate us more than ever, those days are lost.

I think about that little second grader in his Mr.Spock costume that was me way back when.That little science nerd would live to see advancements that make Star Trek look prophetic, such as a mobile phones and the Internet. However,those advancements came with people having an unspoken mistrust of their neighbors. Instead of mama simply checking the candy and warning you not to eat too much of it, mamas today are afraid that letting their children trick or treat unknown people could lead to disaster.

Those fears are with good reason. The pedophiles, the sickos, the religious freaks,they all seem to now use Halloween to try to get what they want. Forgive my melancholy for a national sense of innocence lost. I just miss those old fashioned Halloweens.

Happy Halloween. Have fun people.

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