Langley Odd Thoughts: Treating kids becomes a party trick

Has Halloween changed since columnist Bob Groeneveld was a kid. Back then most kids dressed as ghosts, if mom could find a worn out sheet.

Like the zombies and vampires that will proliferate as the darkness descends on Saturday, Halloween is hardly recognizable against what it was when the earth was young and I had to wear a fake beard so my neighbours could pretend they didn’t recognize me when I went trick-or-treating.

We used to gear up for Halloween by rummaging through the closet for Dad’s and Mom’s oldest clothes. The rattier the better, of course. Favourite personas were tramps or dishevelled businessmen, trollops or old washerwomen.

You could get cheap make-up sticks for death-darkened eyes, and the old standby was throwing a sheet over your head and cutting out a couple of eyeholes – and that had better be a really old sheet! Pretty close to half of all the kids trick-or-treating were ghosts.

Everyone talked a lot about the “ghosts and goblins” spooking the neighbourhoods at Halloween, but I don’t recall actually ever seeing a goblin. I figure goblin costumes were too much trouble for any Mom with a house full of brats running her ragged and a sewing machine already loaded up with pants and shirts that needed mending.

Didn’t matter what we wore, anyway. The neighbours always recognized us – even the ones who pretended to be frightened by our creepy appearance.

Even when we were totally covered up under white sheets and talking with our creepiest moans.

The real trick was trying to fool someone – anyone! – handing out the treats.

If you have your goodies at the ready, how many of the ghouls and rock stars knocking at your door seeking sweet sustenance from you will you recognize?

Indeed, how many would you recognize even if they weren’t wearing masks and ghastly disguises?

Do you know all the kids in your neighbourhood? Do you know any of the kids in your neighbourhood… except maybe your own?

Most of us spooks and oddly put-together mini-adults walked around the block in our quest for treats.

Well, actually, for most of my friends and me, the “block” was about a mile up and down the gravel road we lived on. As I think back, I figure that totalled maybe nine houses, counting our own – a lot of work for limited rewards.

Some years, usually if the weather was good, we would hang a left at the end of the road and foray into the adjoining, slightly more densely populated neighbourhood. One of our older brothers might tag along undisguised, to watch out for us, careful to stay in the shadows when doors were opened and treats handed out – so as not to give away our unsuccessfully concealed identities.

The chaperone was mostly a token, and often left out of the picture altogether. The neighbours all watched out for us from door to door.

I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon – even if I am one – but when we were kids, we frowned on the rich brats from the high-end neighbourhood who got their parents to drive them all over town and bragged at school the next day about how they had to change pillow cases twice to keep up with all the treats they got to haul home. They didn’t even realize that their greed sucked the fun out of their own experience.

Perhaps they were the reason that, just as television vampires have become mediocre, as monsters go, and zombies are now boringly commonplace, trick-or-treating has buckled under the weight of its uninspired hankering for selfish gain, and in the more successfully ghoulish households, Halloween finds costumed kids laughing at parties instead.

Just Posted

Tardi earns first victory in quest for third national title

A Langley-based junior curling team is in Prince Albert, Sask. for the Canadian championships.

VIDEO: Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Langley-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered Langley girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

LETTER: Langley/Surrey shortchanged on transit for Vancouver

Funding to get SkyTrain to Langley City could come from not undergrounding Vancouver’s extension.

LETTER: Area letter writer puts Trump government shutdown in perspective

A Maple Ridge letter writer is critical of Hillary Clinton’s comments about the shutdown.

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read