We all know Halloween traditions differ from region to region.
For instance, the Oct. 30 “Mischief Night” or “Devil’s Night” is a bigger, more entrenched deal in some areas than it is in others.
Where I grew up, Mischief Night was talked about more than it was ever actually celebrated. In other places, the toilet paper flies wild and free every Oct. 30.
And in still other areas, they skip the petty vandalism and go straight to burning stuff down. (Wiki tells me Detroit has adopted citizens’ patrols, running several nights a year, to deter arson and other serious crimes on Devil’s Night.)
Another example of regional differences: Some areas insist on holding tricks-or-treats on Oct. 31 every year, while others hold them on the Friday night immediately preceding Halloween. My feelings on that subject have already been explored in this space.
I never thought there was any disagreement on when tricks-or-treats should start on the big night, though. Kids aren’t supposed to go out until after dinner, and preferably not until after things get a little bit dark, for proper atmosphere.
I find myself questioning that after reading my grandfather’s calendar entry from this week 40 years ago.
The entry appears to suggest that kids began arriving “after 3 p.m.”
If they did, my grandpa would not have been there to serve them, as he would have had to drive my great-grandma (“Pauline”) to her 2:30 p.m. doctor’s appointment.
Presumably my grandma stayed home and handed out the Mary Janes, or Zagnut bars, or whatever old-school candy my grandparents stocked themselves with. Unless they gave out nickels or something. That would have been like them.
This entry seems remarkable to me. I’ve never known anyone, anywhere to make the rounds of houses in daylight.
There’s no indication of rain on the calendar, or anything else that might have forced an early Halloween. In fact, my grandpa’s calendar entries say October 31, 1974, kicked off several days of Indian summer, with temperatures reaching 80 degrees the following day. So, weather clear, track fast, as they say in the racing game.
Also, Halloween 1974 fell on a Thursday. I’m not sure kids of trick-or-treating age were even out of school at 3 p.m. that day. (Not to mention that at least some of their parents would still have been at work and unable to accompany them.)
Hope Street, in fairness, was no leafy cul-de-sac. It was a busy street in the ’70s (it’s even busier today), and maybe not an ideal place to walk after dark. So that might be one understandable argument for holding tricks-or-treats early.
I still find the idea of daytime trick-or-treating too bizarre to accept, though.
So I’m going to stick with the hypothesis I find most believable: Maybe one kid showed up at 3:30 because he was sick, or his family was going out of town, or some other emergency arose. Then all the other kids showed up at the expected time after dark.
That’s probably it … there was one seven-year-old kid back in the Ford administration who had a touch of grippe, and went out trick-or-treating early so he could get his candy before the creeping crud set in … and his tortured meanderings have just occupied a solid hour-plus of my life here in 2014.
Hope you got a good haul, dude.