This time of year also brings back memories of being a child and growing up in the Bronx. It was a time when there was no fear to go out into the night and ring bells for treats. Although there were news reports of razor blades put into luscious red ripe apples the parents quickly tossed it out of trick or treat bags. Was this a conspiracy to consume packaged candy? Earlier we had metal tin pumpkins for candy collection. And then followed paper bags that had printed witches flying on brooms, ghosts, and pumpkins.The costumes were purchased at the 5 & 10. I remember going down the aisle that had stacked boxes on its shelves and selecting my favorite elastic string plastic mask. There was only a small perforated manufactured hole cut out at the mouth and one could barely breathe. To this day I remember the plastic smell of the product and how hot my face became to wear it. Some years I wore a siblings costume. A hand me down. In my later childhood years card shops offered elaborate rubber masks for sale. This type also proved to be very hot to wear and very suffocating. Autumn in the Bronx during the late fifties, sixties was generally cooler, windy and or rainy. The costumes had to be purchased a size larger than usual because underneath it we wore winter clothes. As I recalled there was a struggle to walk or move arms. And it was HOT!
The reason why trick or treat was so great at the Bronx was because of all the apartment buildings. In the suburbs parents had to drive the kids from house to house but by living in the city the sky was the limit! Every child took advantage of that and in large groups without parents! We climbed up levels of stairs because many of the buildings did not have elevators. Screaming all the way up and all the way down! From late afternoon until nine at night my group would prowl down many streets and into art deco apartment buildings. Late at night the hooligans would pounce on cars spraying shaving cream, throwing eggs and walk from car rooftop to rooftop down streets. My little legs ran from these older troubling crowds. You really did not want to come across this bunch!
Our trick or treat bags also produced allot of change. People would hand us pennies, dimes, nickles and quarters as treats. My siblings and I would empty our bags onto the living room rug for parental inspection and counting of change. We often traded candy too. It appeared that the candy corn, pumpkin, witch corns were our favorites. Mini tootsie rolls were also popular, milky way bars and red hot hard candy balls. My candy generally ended up on top of the old fashioned white refrigerator and put into my school lunch bag as a treat. Today Halloween is different. More parents are fearful of sending their children out and will only visit neighbors and friends houses. House parties have become more popular and there are those that have scratched participation altogether for one reason or another. But you do notice the candy keeps mounting at the grocery store to sell and for people that love candy they look forward to Halloween as a time of year to purchase a fresh supply.