"I not only have my secrets, I am my secrets. And you are yours. Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other enough to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it means to be human." Frederick Buechner, American Writer and Theologian

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Memories - The World Has Changed

When I was 17 (n 1957) Halloween Legends fascinated me, and I wrote a story that all these years later became my contribution to this October's WEP (Write-Edit-Publish) challenge sponsored by several talented writers and bloggers, including my good friend and author Denise Covey. I published it on my WordPress blog that I’m not longer using, so probably many of you won’t have read it.
Plus I've deleted the introductory details and added these new ones ...

The World Has Changed

It was a different world when I was a trick or treater in the late 1940s and 1950s. I’ve wished there were digital cameras then so I’d have pictures of that time in the late 1940s and 1950s when my sister and I went trick or treating. But but there’s a treasure trove of vintage pictures on the Internet.

This one from Wikipedia of two children trick or treating in Arkansas USA is pretty much the way I remember the Halloweens of my youth. And also this brief excerpt from Wikipedia that describes those days: 

"Trick-or-treating typically happens between 5:30pm and 9:30pm on October 31. Although some municipalities choose other dates. Homeowners wishing to participate in it sometimes decorate their private entrances with artificial with artificial spider webs, plastic skeletons and jack-o-lanterns. Some rather reluctant homeowners would simply leave the candy in bowls on the porch [I don't recall anyone doing this].

"Others might be more participative and would even ask an effort from the children in order to provide them with candy."

I remember one man grandfatherly insisting that my sister and I and our friends recite something before he'd give us the candy we wanted. I also remember how safe the world was then, or so it seemed in my childhood in Salt Lake City, Utah. No fear of razor blades in candy. No fear of anything as my siblings and friends and I strolled happily in our masked costumes, knocking on doors that opened on people we knew. 
Some Things I Remember, Some I've Forgotten
I do remember that I was a junior in high school when I composed my Halloween story in longhand then laboriously copied onto a sheet of paper I rolled into my mother's Underwood typewriter. It was published in 1957 in my high school's creative writing magazine, one of only a few stories that's survived time and my many moves back and forth across the United States.
I have no recollection of where I got the information for the story. Maybe from the public library, my only source of books in the 1950s. And maybe I had a better imagination then than I have now for fantasy. But as I typed the story into this post I remembered hearing stories in my youth of Halloweeners tipping over outhouses, and even some incidents of cows appearing on rural porches. 

My Story - The Legend of Hallowe'en Eve

Published in This.
One of the Few Things I've Saved.
All was quiet on the Heaven front. The Saints, in angelic form for the next day, were peaceful and content. They'd had a busy year, what with answering prayers and all, and they all felt they deserved a day of celebration - All Saints Day, the Earth People called it.
The Saints were in rare form, but down below, things were coming to a boiling point. Hell's inhabitants were annoyed at the heavenly state of affairs. What was all this fuss anyway over a bunch of Saints? The devils, they argued hotly, should have a day, too. But no Earthling would ever think of anything as brain-taxing as that.

A light suddenly broke through the fiery darkness which, in this sphere, was most unusual. Lucifer had just come up with a hell-shattering idea. Gathering his fellow inmates around him, a plan was whispered and discussed. Immediately the sphere was bustling with activity.
A firepot in one corner contained a very potent, special brew. Suddenly, amid screams and squeals, witches and ghastly ghosts emerged. Green-eyed black cats roamed among blood-red devils. Chaos filled the sphere, delighting the inhabitants. Hell had broken loose, and there was no stopping them now, The Saints, hearing and realizing for the first time what the commotion was about, were dismayed. Worried wrinkles marred their heavenly countenances.
The night was young as the weird creatures started out. The sky was clear and the air crisp; it was a perfect night for haunting. Below was the city, lit by millions of lifeless fireflies. All was peaceful, but not for long. Through the cold, clean air flew witches, broomsticks intact, accompanied by black cats, white, ghastly ghosts, and mischievous devils hanging onto their pitchforks and emitting screams and shrills of cunning and delight.
Descending on the quiet town like a sudden storm, they proceeded to frighten the Earthlings, leaving behind them a trail of broken glass and soaped windows, overturned outhouses, and stuffed-up chimney tops. They even went so far as to move a bewildered cow from its pasture to the porch of the house. The more the Earth People protested, and screamed, the louder their devilish laughter laughter rang through the air.
Finally, exhausted from their travels, they reluctantly picked up their tails and broomsticks and returned once more to their place of abode.
"We'll have to do this again next year," they told each other as they collapsed onto their fiery beds of unrest.
Thus, the first Halloween was firmly established. The devils were thoroughly satisfied with their cunning, and the Saints were relieved to note that the earth was once more restored to sanity with the devils' departure, at least until next year. And after such a hectic night, surely tomorrow, they thought, would have to be a peaceful day.

My Queen of Halloween Daughter

Stephanie Best Chantilly High School Graduate 1986
This is my "little" daughter Stephanie Best Kulla, as she's known on Facebook. She's Megan in my memoir as she and her oldest sister didn't want me to use their real names. Now she wouldn't mind. She even helped me promote the book back in 2011 through Valon Salon where she's one of the "best" hairdressers (pardon the pun).

I'm in the process of posting a page here about her. She was in the accident in 1986 with her sister Jen, suffering a crushed pelvis. It took her a year to get working full time again at the hair cuttery.

Halloween has always been her favorite holiday. She and her husband have decorated their townhouse inside and out, every season for the past 15 years. One recent year it was written up in the local Centreville, Virginia USA newspaper.

A few happy photos from her Facebook page October 2016

The Good Witch 
Stephanie Best Kulla
Happy Day!

The Icing on the Cake

Can't end this topic without posting these photographs that tug at my heart: my two youngest grandchildren almost 2000 miles away from us. They had to move from Virginia to Albuquerque, New Mexico a year and a half ago. These pictures my daughter-in-law posted last Halloween. Hope she'll post some this year.

Love you, Connor and Gavin!


  1. Hi Ann - how wonderful to read more memories ... and see more photos. Stephanie looks amazing ... while the two kids Connor and Gavin - yes so sad they're so far away ...

    Your story is great - lots of shenanigans for one night of the year ... is definitely all right! Great read ...

    Cheers and Happy Halloween to one and all and you two especially ... Hilary

    1. How lovely that you're online right this minute. Glad you like it. I just barely got the spacing fixed! In some ways I like WordPress more than Blogger, but I LOVE this better contact with all my dear friends!! I'm now heading over to your place ...

  2. I find Halloween no fun anymore, Ann, and commented about that on my blog today. I might wish I had an excuse to buy those big bags of candy, but that's all.

    1. Enjoyed your post, Pat, if enjoy is the word as I agree it just isn't fun anymore...for we older ones anyway.

  3. Ann, great story about Halloween. Times have changed and that makes me a big sad. Love that your daughter and her husband decorate inside and outside. I think it should be a fun holiday for all. Great photos too. Wishing you and Jen a safe and Happy Halloween.

    1. These older children of mine do enjoy it. I think I would too if I lived in a "real " neighborhood. But Jen and I had a peaceful evening, thank you, Mason.

  4. I love your story! When I was a kid in the 70s, we just trick-or-treated in our own neighborhood. Now it's a whole THING for kids. Their parents take them to churches, community events, and subdivisions where they can get the most candy. I actually see people asking what subdivision they should drop their kids off in on Halloween...what happened to just walking out of your front door and going to the houses around you?!

    1. We lived in a good time, didn't we. Wow. I didn't know this is what happens today. So sad for the children...and in a way for the parents too.

  5. Ann, it was so wonderful to read more of your memories. Of course, we don't celebrate Halloween in Oz, so I do wonder what the fuss is all about, but it's a long tradition in many other countries. Times change things, don't they?

    Much love to you and Jen! (((hugs)))

  6. Sorry, I've beem slow getting here. If you read my current post, you'll see I've been busy moving!

  7. That was such a fun story. Halloween looks like so much fun, but it's not really a thing here in South Africa. (Although shops are trying to get it off the ground.)

  8. I agree, things have changed a great deal from when we were young. Appreciate you sharing your memories and your grandchildren with us. :)