In the 1970's we actually felt like the Charlie Brown kids -- always on our own with no parents in sight and always scheming a terrible idea.
The 1970s was a time when Halloween meant K-Mart costumes and pillow cases, more about the spirit of throwing together a look than piecing together the perfect more serious costumes of today. Halloween was a chance to live life to the fullest as kids. For us, we would go out early and walk forever. We would run from house to house with such excitement, talking about what our favorite treats were so far and who we thought had given us the best candy. We’d talk about the people who offered us full-sized candy bars and how they must be rich or just really like being nice to kids. And we’d stand in awe when someone had small bags containing treats ready for each and every one of us.
There were some pitfalls to Halloween in the 1970's - Let's take a look back!
First of all, many Halloween costumes were considered highly flammable. In 1971, the F.D.A. issued a warning to parents to check their kids' costumes to ensure they weren't made out of flammable material. It seems that some kids were standing too close to the jack-o-lanterns on the stoops and catching on fire - yikes? Also, how the hell could we see anything with those plastic masks with the eyes cut out, the tiniest slit for a mouth (you couldn't even eat candy or breath for that matter) and that horrible rubber band around your head. The tiny rubber string always broke before treat or treating and mom would have to replace it with a rubber band - ouch. I specifically remember one year her asking me to hold her cigarette while she fixed it.
We had to wear our coats with our costumes, bummer!
I actually wore this costume one year and it was the worst! Everyone kept asking me who I was.
In the 1970's there was a famous photographer in New York City, Larry Racioppo, who took black and white photos of the children in the streets of New York. Below is his work:
Typical girl costumes
Typical boy costumes
This poor kid, guess he is trying to be a ghost? With no hands?
The next thing that could have killed us was -- look out for razor blades in apples!! I am almost sure this was an urban legend but has always been taken very seriously. If you gave out apples, you were some kind of lunatic!
Also, do you remember we were told not to eat red M&M's? It was a thing that red-dye could make you very sick. I think they even stopped making red M&M's for a while until they figured the whole thing out. On the subject of not eating your candy, we also had to have our candy bars checked because it was also urban legend that some lunatics would smash up pills, put them in your candy bars and then rewrap them.
There was actually one true Halloween murder story of a little boy eating poisoned candy. In 1974 Timothy O'Bryan, an eight year old from Texas died when his own father put cyanide in pixie sticks to collect the insurance money on his own two children. The little boy in the planet of the apes costume below died (the picture could be an urban legend?). The other kids were all given the pixie sticks but he was the only one that ate it. The father was put to death for the murder 10 years later. This is where "The Candy Man" urban legend originated from.
We went out all by ourselves -- yes, this really happened. Mom would rip the pillowcases off of the pillows and hand one to you and your siblings to put the candy in. She hands you an old flashlight that weighs about two pounds, but has to shake it first to get it to work. You immediately shove it into the pillowcase as you run down the sidewalk, your mom waving from the front door as smoke from her cigarette encircles her head. When you got home, which would be around 11:00 p.m., when nobody would open their doors anymore, we dumped our candy, and mom would put the pillowcase back on your pillow.
Have you carved a pumpkin lately? You can buy all of these handy little tools for under $5. Little saws and little pokers. We used to carve our pumpkins with the biggest knife we could find! Not sure if our parents let us, or they just weren't around.
Happy Halloween everyone. Go enjoy a good old fashioned Halloween movie with your favorite Halloween candy. Mine is a Twix bar.