“No! You cannot go trick-or-treating.” My dad was adamant about that.
Dad’s word was law around our house, so that pronouncement presented a dilemma. He was a strict law-and-order man. The kind of guy who always said, “You don’t negotiate with kidnappers.” No pay-for-protection, no ransom money, and most importantly to us six kids, NO TRICK-OR-TREATING!
Trick or treating was, in his view, the business of hooligans, extracting payment (treats) in return for not playing tricks, such as overturning garbage cans or waxing windows. Victims were subject to “Gate Night,” when all kinds of vandalism was threatened.
Of course the sugar industry always wins these kinds of arguments. In the end we made a compromise. On Halloween night we all marched out in a group, joined sometimes by other neighborhood kids: Ghosts, fairies, princesses and cowboys and more, candy sacks in hand, we would knock like all the other hooligans but we were strictly forbidden to take candy without giving something back in return.
Our family gift was music. We all sang. Dad and I played guitar, my sisters played piano, my mom played the record player, and my great grandfather, who was tone-deaf, would sing in a monotone, “ho ho ho, ho ho ho.” I don’t know what made him think that was a song.
At any rate, on Halloween, the compromise was that we would sing at every house. I don’t know where my dad got this song that he taught us. Perhaps he made it up. The lyrics were as follows:
"The witches are calling yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo. The witches are calling, yoo-hoo. So come everyone, and join in the fun. The witches are calling yoo-hoo."
Neighbors waited expectantly at their doorways, looking forward to greeting us. I don’t know who enjoyed our trick-or-treating more, the witches who called, or the people giving out the treats.
When we got home from our “performance," our bags were always full and running over: We had so much candy that our parents feared it would make us sick, and of course we had treats in our lunches for a long time.
My wife Laura and I look forward to seeing all the little kiddies dressed up in such an array of fairies, goblins and ghouls, yet since childhood, I have never heard of a trick-or-treater group entertaining their neighbors with song.
If only they sang and danced, adding joy to the costumery, do you suppose the pumpkins on the porches would smile bigger? Would people wait even more expectantly for the most ghastly night of the year? I think so too.
#witches #halloween #trickortreat #memories #thefifties