• jtbelangela

Halloween Memories

Halloween is imminent. In full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of Halloween--never have been. Like everything else in our modern world, Halloween is so complicated these days. Do we really need more complicated in our lives? Everyone must have over-the-top decorations outside their home that look like they were stolen from the set of The Walking Dead and costumes (even those for the littlest goblins) are elaborate and movie-set ready. The Halloweens I enjoyed as a child growing up in my beloved hometown of Bronx, New York were much simpler and way more fun.

Every Halloween my mother would hang up cardboard decorations from the Beistle Company that she purchased from the local five and dime. We had pumpkins, black cats and our old friend, the patchwork goblin. We looked forward to the arrival of those decorations with great anticipation. When it came time for costumes, there were lots of boxed options available to us down at Woolworth’s, but my mother always made our costumes. My mother was a whiz with her sewing machine. Any costume we wanted could be cranked out in the time it took her to watch an episode of General Hospital. My mother made many creative and eye-catching costumes over the years from Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz to a fancy princess to a nun. That particular costume was so spot-on, it rivaled those worn by the teachers at my Catholic School. (The costume delighted them to no end as well.)

Of course there was candy. Lots of candy. And I swear it tasted so much better back then. I’m not sure if it tasted better because of different ingredients or because we ate it with abandon not worrying about calories, fat or whether it would raise our glycemic index! The options were endless and one more delicious than the next … Chuckles (the rings, not the squares), Now and Laters, Kits, BB Bats and Charms, Marathon bars, M&Ms, $100,000 bars, Chunky and the one I still dream about—Choco’Lite bars. Candy aside, my favorite part of the trick or treating experience were those little paper goody bags the candy would come in. Back then, folks didn’t dispense the candy from a big bowl like people do now, families filled little white paper bags decorated with Halloween designs and folded the top over to seal in the candy. How I loved those little paper bags. After removing the candy, I always flattened the bags and kept them pressed between books on my shelf to keep them in good condition.

Those little paper bags have gone away along with boxed costumes, paper decorations and the Choco-Lite bar. I think it’s a shame, but I have plenty of memories and photo albums to revisit this weekend. I can’t hit Woolworths for a Marathon bar, but I think I’ll go make myself a cup of organic, stevia-sweetened hot cocoa from Whole Foods and troll ebay for some paper bags. Now that sounds like fun.

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