Friday, October 21, 2016

Halloween Hullabaloo

"Radiant and beautiful October,
whose changing color heralds the approach
of winter, gives us our first autumn holiday,
if Halloween can now be called a holiday."
 -The American Girls Handy Book
Lina Beard and Adelia B.Beard

Halloween History Lesson

"Before the Christian era, in the days of the ancient Celts
and their priests, the Druids, the first of November
was the time for one of the three principle festivals of the year.
The first of May was celebrated for the sowing; the solstice on the
 twenty-first of June for the ripening, and the eve of the first of
November for the harvesting.

At each of these festivals  great fires were built on the
hill tops in honor of the sun, which the people worshiped.
When Christianity took the place of the heathen religion,
the Church, instead of forbidding the celebration of these days
gave them different meanings, and in this way the ancient
harvest festival of the Celts became All Hallows Eve,
or the eve of All Saints Day, the first day of November
having been dedicated to all the saints."    
The American Girls Handy Book
 Lina Beard and Adelia B. Beard

In ancient Ireland and Gaul, people
lit bonfires on the hill tops on All Hallows Eve
to keep away evil spirits which were
thought to roam freely on that night.

Fast forward to America 2016
where Halloween,
has become a full scale holiday
 of rampant consumerism and rotten teeth,
(and I'm not just talking about zombie make-up)
  which now begins in late August
when the first scary rubber masks,
yard decorations, and colorful bags
of over-priced, "fun size" candy bars
and other sweets hit the shelves 
of local drug and dollar stores 
from coast to coast
 and everywhere in between!    

  "I told you not to eat so much candy corn!" 

Personally, I am not a big fan of
today's over-the-top celebration of Halloween.
While I see no harm in parents
dressing up their kids in costumes
to trick or treat at a
local shopping mall, or attending
one of the latest community-sponsored
events called,"Trunk or Treat" where
participants go from car to car
in a parking lot to collect candy and
other goodies, which I see is a safer
alternative to traditional door-to-door
trick or treating, it greatly disturbs me
 that someone would purchase
the buildings and grounds of a former
state institution, where the patients,
which included many children and babies,
were subjected to terrible abuse and neglect,
for the sole purpose of turning the place
into a haunted Halloween attraction
 for fun and profit.
  The former Pennhurst State School
and Hospital located in eastern Pennsylvania,
has now re-opened it's doors as a
"haunted asylum" becoming a popular
destination for thrill seekers with the
approach of Halloween.   

 "I saw things I will never forget"
-Bill Baldini

In 1968, veteran news journalist,
Bill Baldini, was an investigative reporter
for Philadelphia-based Channel 10 News
 when he broke the story about the
 horrible conditions at the
Pennhurst State School and Hospital in
Chester County, Pennsylvania. 
 His five part series,
"Suffer The Little Children"
 both sickened and outraged viewers,
and eventually led to the closing of the school in 1987.

The Halloween I Remember...

Vintage Halloween Window Decorations

Halloween would not be the same
without the annual re-airing of  the Peanuts classic,
 "It's The Great Pumpkin,Charlie Brown"
which celebrates it's 50th anniversary this year!  

 As a child, the great highlight of Halloween night

was getting dressed up in a costume and going out
"trick or treating" with my sisters and brother.

 Store bought Halloween masks were often based on
favorite cartoon characters

Since we lived on the outskirts of town, my mother
loaded all six of us kids into the car and drove
  to the homes of family and friends, where
we tried to trick them by making them guess
who was who beneath our mask or make-up,
in order to earn a special treat of candy,
cookies, or caramel apples.

A stash of trick or treat goodies was collected in
an old pillow case.

 I always called these
deliciously crisp ginger snaps,
"Halloween Cookies"
(I still do!) 
Growing up, I remember
 the grocery stores
would start to stock Ivins
black and orange boxed cookies
with the coming of fall and Halloween.
You can buy them all year round now!
These treats always bring me
fond memories of my childhood
and my maternal grandmother,
Dorothy Yard, who always set out a
big tray of Ivins Famous Spiced Wafers
for hungry trick or treaters
every Halloween.

Sticky, sweet caramel apples are a
happy Halloween memory

A Walt Disney Halloween Classic

"The Headless Horseman"
Sung By Bing Crosby

But wait, there's more!

A hilarious clip from 
the Our Gang film short,
"Hide and Shriek"
Featuring the one and only

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