On a farm in Northern Colorado
1937 to 1955
and in North Kenai, Alaska
I always smile when I think of Halloween and the good times I have had and watching all the little kids and big kids too, enjoy Halloween.
On the farm no one enjoyed it as much as our Dad - especially when he was scaring or pulling a trick on us. HE WAS the biggest kid!
The one time that comes to mind makes me giggle all over again. I am sure if he were telling it he would be the one laughing the hardest. My sister Ginger and I were doing the dishes. ( You know - washing dishes in the sink and rinsing with boiling water out of the tea kettle - I am not sure if dishwashers were invented then!)
Ginger had to wash dishes for almost a year because I had my hand in a cast from breaking my thumb in Gym class. I was on the bottom of a pyramid and the top gal started to fall and then the rest, most of them fell on me. Broke my thumb clear back to my wrist. I had to have surgery by Dr.James Stewart. It was broken and fixed in the spring and this was Halloween! Not because it did not heal, but Mom or Dad did not get around to taking me back in to town to get the cast off. I finally took it off myself! SOO....Ginger and I were arguing when all of the sudden there was a tap-tap on the kitchen window above the sink! Up popped this awful looking ragged looking person with straggly hair and no lips. Ginger took one screaming look and turned to run just as I saw that ghostly thing and I took off running turning in the same direction as Ginger. We collided face to face, then we took off running again! I am sure I was screaming too! We hit the door of the dinning room at the same time and almost killed ourselves trying to get through at the same time! We went screaming into the living room where Mom was hiding behind a newspaper. She pulled the paper down, took off Dads glasses, (which she always “borrowed,”) and looked in dismay, as we were stuttering, stammering and pointing at something outside and screaming, “we better lock the doors!”
Mom had a poker face look as she said - well you better go lock the kitchen door and I will lock the front door...neither me or Ginger would budge! No way were we going back out to the kitchen with that awful thing peeking in the window!
Then we both said - “Where’s Dad?” Moms said in her most innocent look, I think he is in the bathroom, just as Dad came through the dinning room door hitching on his belt, wanting to know what all the screaming was about. Ginger and I were telling him at the same time about that “thing”!
Dad could not stand it any longer and he burst out in his belly laugh! Ginger caught on first - it took me a while - and still does - to figure things out! Dad had put an old string mop over his head, sucked in his lips and let out his loud “boo” as he peeked in the window and scratched on the outside wall. He was laughing so hard that Mom even joined in on the laughter. Ginger and I were half scared and half upset with Dad.
He told this story over and over through the years, slapping his leg with tears running down his cheeks. That was at the top of his list of scary things he did to us.
He would hide in bedrooms and barely uttered “boo.” It sent, who ever, screaming through the house. He hid inside the barn as we were coming through the door, jump out and yell boo! We were never safe from his “boo’s”!
As little kids in grade school, we got to “dress up” usually with some of Mom or Dads clothes. Borrow an old worn out straw hat and some kind of Moms makeup - lipstick mainly - draw on our face and little brothers and little sisters. We were very happy with the outcome. I do not ever remember Mom buying costumes from the stores. We usually came up with a solution of old clothes and funny hats and colored lipstick face. Our treat from our house was Mom and Dad’s popcorn balls they had fixed the night before.
When we were younger, we only got to go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house and a neighbor or two. We would pile in the old car and Dad would drive us to Grandpa and Grandma’s, a mile north. Dad would turn out the lights on the car and we would sneak up to the door of their basement house and knock as hard as we could.
We would have to wait for Grandpa to climb up the stairs , open the screen door and let us holler “trick or treat!” He would tell us to come on in. By that time Dad was behind us and we would traipse down into the warm kitchen, where Grandma had baked her wonderful sugar cookies with lots of sugar on them We each got two. We ate one and put the other in our empty paper bag.
We never were allowed to have cookies without a glass of cold milk at Grandmas. So we gulped it down while Dad visited with Grandpa and Grandma jabbered at us.
Then Dad would say “ time to go.” We gave them both big hugs and thank you’s and up the stairs we went to pile in the car. Off to Mr. and Mrs. Donners’ house and then to Mrs. Aranci’s house, then back home. All the treats were homemade and delicious. The rule was… we had to share with Dad, he got to pick. We ate our goodies, (just two Mom would say) over hot chocolate at the kitchen table. It was a fun night! Especially sitting around the table with Dad and Mom at 9 at night!
It was cold in Northern Colorado at Halloween so we all had heavy coats and mittens on. One of us would eventually end up loosing a mitten or a hat, never to be found again.
Bob grew up in Sinclair, Wyoming. He said their tricks were mean and not so funny. Pushing cars into the middle of the street. Sticking a small branch in the middle of the horn to make it blair continually. They stole a crate of eggs and “egged” the sheriff’s car and other cars and windows. Other things he did not want to mention! Son-in-law Porter remember going to the military base and getting a pillow case full of candy.
Arriving in Alaska in 1967, all our friends were from warmer climates and new to Alaska cold. Being from Colorado we knew how cold it could get on Halloween and so did my Mom. She sent my kids warm coats, snow suits, mittens, hats and gloves and included enough for the neighbors. Time for trick or treat, kids bundled up in the warmest clothes, tried to put a home made costume over the top, put on that hat and gloves, climb, push and shove, into the crowded car so they could get some treats!
Most of the kids had paper bags or pillow cases. I had a big old black and turquoise, Plymouth station wagon that would accommodate 6 to10 kids, squished in. Neighbors lived down lanes, over bumpy road to homesteads, or in houses and trailers. We hit them all. The treats were varied, from home made cookies to anything an unsuspecting home owner, who did not know it was Halloween, had on hand. The kids would come home with very little candy although Susan said her biggest treat was a great big candy bar.
As they dumped the goodies on the floor of our living room, still with snow suits on…out would tumble, pennies, quarters, dollars bills, popcorn, popcorn balls, cookies decorated with lots of frosting and one year - potatoes! The poor guy had no idea it was Halloween! The new influx of oil field families brought lots of kids knocking on his door, hidden off in the woods. He grew potatoes and had a bumper crop. I was pleased - new potatoes for the family and many more hungry faces who dropped by at any given time. The kids were NOT so pleased. And as always some of the new mittens and hats were forever gone to the big black hole in the snow.
Hope to hear your stories and memories about Halloween. I am sorry to say it is so commercialized that kids of today have a whole new perspective of Halloween. I still make popcorn balls for treats!
The series is written by a 47 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook.
She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.
Grannie Annie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The “Grannie Annie” Cook Book Series includes: “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ on the Woodstove”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters”; and “Grannie Annie’s Eat Dessert First.” They are available at M & M Market in Nikiski.