T is for Trick or Treat and Halloween Mayhem. Twentieth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!
Holidays came and went during my elementary years in Endwell, N.Y. But for the 50-or-so kids who lived on my block the only one that really counted was Halloween — especially the weeks and months of neighborhood pranks that led up to the final night of trick or treat.
When I arrived on the block at age seven, the practical jokes were confined to a couple of weeks before Halloween — commencing about the time that colorful fall leaves started showing.
But we kids enjoyed plotting our mayhem so much that we kept pushing back the start date. Soon our planning sessions had moved from mid October to late September and finally — according to my diary — to August, before school even started!
Aug. 26, 1961. At 9:00 Debbie, Danny, Evans and I were talking about soaping windows. 11:00 Eclipse of the moon.
Soaping windows and ringing doorbells were favored activities — driving our parents nuts and majorly riling up a couple of the more high-strung dads on the street. In short, tons of fun!
The premise of ringing doorbells was pretty basic. You waited until after dusk — in the last hour of outdoor play after dinner — then bucked up your courage, rang someone’s doorbell and ran like mad before the door flew open.
There were famous stories of close calls and missteps. One kid got caught ringing a doorbell when a dad — standing at the ready — suddenly whipped the door open. “Can Joey come out to play?” asked the quick-thinking youngster as he stood trembling on the porch.
Then there was the time a visiting boy, unfamiliar with our back yards, ran into a hurricane fence when a bunch of us ducked between houses to make our escape. He was ahead of me — and not hurt — but the sight of him bouncing off the fence got us all laughing so hard we were nearly caught.
Ringing doorbells, although annoying to the grownups, was a fairly innocent prank. But soaping windows with bar soap rose to a whole other level. And it was usually reserved for the houses of the most defiant dads — the ones who yelled at us or sat out on their porches as if daring us to try. So try we did — and usually succeeded.
One year, I remember standing with a bunch of kids in the street opposite the porch-sitting dad as he laughed at us. From there we watched smugly as another group of kids snuck into his back yard in the dark and boosted each other up to quietly soap his windows.
Soap wasn’t too bad, since it was easy to wash off with a water hose when Halloween was over. Worst of all was waxing windows — using the wax tubes filled with sweet, colored liquid that we got at Michael’s 5 & 10 candy counter.
We’d drink the liquid and stockpile the tubes to wax the windows of the yelling dad — which drove him completely berserk. It took him days of tedious scraping with a razor blade to remove all the wax.
Trick or treat
Yet after a couple of months of these diverting pranks, Halloween inevitably arrived — to the disappointment of us youngsters and sighs of relief from our parents.
Not that we kids didn’t enjoy dressing in costumes and going door-to-door for candy with our little trick-or-treat bags. But until the following summer, we would miss the strategy and camaraderie that came with planning and executing our annual Halloween pranks.
Up next, Upward and onward: Sixth Blogiversary! Please stop back.
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