Halloween: More Tricks Than Treats

Well, here it is once again—that goblin and ghoulish time of year. Do you ever wonder what Halloween was like back in the 1930-40s? Or how the Amos boys celebrated, if they did at all?

Obviously things were different back then. Jerry says most parents were too busy working long hours for the war effort and trying to make do.

“Maybe it was just our social class environment but I can’t remember any birthday parties, graduations, open houses, or parents giving any special attention to Halloween,” says Jerry. “We were on our own for fun things to do.”

Although he does remember tricking-or-treating once when he was about 11-years old and living with his Grandma Maggie and her husband Jim Adams.

“Three or four of us guys thought we were really too old for this but might try getting some candy on another street,” says Jerry. “We didn’t have costumes or masks. It was after dark and in a different neighborhood. We went up to a strange house, knocked and shouted “trick-or-treat.” A little, sweet old lady finally came to the door and seemed really taken back. She was unprepared for Halloweeners but said if we would come in she would find something for us. She returned from the kitchen with a pint jar of grape jelly and a tablespoon. Having us hold out our hands she gave each of us a nice big scoop. We thanked her and departed leaving the treat somewhere along the way back home. We never knew for sure whether we were flimflammed or not.”

Duane and Bruce

It’s too bad we don’t have any pictures of Jerry and his friends with their hands full of jelly. We do however have this cute snapshot of these two cowboys, Duane and Bruce, although I’m betting it has nothing to do with Halloween—not the stories they tell anyway!

“I don’t remember doing any trick-or-treating. I suppose the tricks we did would be considered next to vandalism,” says Duane. “There were a couple houses we picked on quite a bit.

“There was a man—I don’t remember his name, but we called him Van—we picked on him quite a bit because he always called the cops on us. We would play ball in the street in front of his house and he would call the cops. I suppose if he had just ignored us, we wouldn’t have bothered him. As it was, he fought a losing battle.”

I wonder what vandalism they did?

“Oh, just throwing rotten eggs and things like that,” says Duane. “A few kids would throw stuff at his front door and while he was yelling at them, a whole bunch of kids would be throwing eggs at the back of his house.”

Bruce has a Van story as well.

“Once we tied a rope to his front door and then wrapped it around his house and tied the other end to his back door,” says Bruce. “Then we made a lot of noise so he would come out.

“He couldn’t get out the doors. But he must have climbed out a window because all the sudden he came up behind and grabbed me. He dragged me over to the window and his wife dumped a bucket of water on me. It was a cold night and that water was real cold.”

Bruce remembers another incident with someone down the street—a woman and her friend.

“Her gentleman caller left his car parked on the street in front of her house,” says Bruce. “Back then no one locked their car doors. We got in and moved it further down the street. He thought it was stolen and called the police.”

Seems like the mention of police comes up often in the Amos boys’ stories, doesn’t it?

“We were always up to something,” says Bruce. “Whether or not it was Halloween didn’t make any difference.”

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