2005-10-27 / View From the Middle

Nice Halloweens Are A Thing Of The Past

View From The Middle
By Charles Rogers

There was a time when Halloween was really nice; a lot of fun for kids who would trek the streets in their costumes, shopping bags fairly bursting with goodies, and lots of laughter. Then it was not so nice; more scary, really. People were afraid to go out at night — trekking or otherwise — because there were bad people out there who would steal Halloween shopping bags just as soon as pull out a gun and rob somebody of his or her wallet. That was scary and prompted Mom to say to the kids, “Let’s go out in the daylight, kiddies, and I’ll go along with you.”

There were the Halloween parties, of course, where adults and almost-adults would get into costume and go to someone’s house or to a club, dance and have a few drinks and, well, make a night of it. A harmless night.

A few years later — I don’t think it was too long ago — things became scarier at this time of year; when the fear was not necessarily of costumes and things purposefully going bump in the night, but, rather, of those “bumping” things being a hard instrument hitting your head.

Many of us can remember, though (it seems like such a long time ago) when little kids could do their trick-or-treating after school and into the evening hours, even if it was getting dark outside. Hell, mothers were pretty confident that nothing would happen, so they even let them go a few blocks in costume at night. What fun!

It was, for the most part, delightful to have the youngsters come to the door in that finest Norman Rockwell tradition and hold out the Halloween bags so they could get their fill of candies and whatnots for the end-of-the-day happy discovery.

However, as the crime rate started rising, so, too, did the fear. Getting “mugged” was scary, true, but the kids also feared a confrontation with neighborhood teenagers. Older kids threw egg and sprayed shaving cream. “Hell Night” deemed worse than “Prank Night.”

On “Hell Night,” marauding groups would do their dirty deeds, not just rubbing soap on store windows or a little graffiti or some other relatively harmless, inoffensive piece of mischief, but something much more drastic. It wasn’t more than ten years ago that the city of Detroit, Michigan was overrun with idiots who decided the best pranks they could think of were looting stores and setting homes afire. Their delight was of the pyromaniac kind, and those responsible were arrested and, yes, put in jail for a long time. These were not treated as childish pranks.

Of course, it stands to reason that it would be wise to discuss with your kids just what they can, and can’t do. You want them to be safe, of course, but you want them to have fun. The teenagers, unfortunately, have to be given direction (lovingly), so don’t forget to be a little bit stern with them as far as appropriate behavior goes. Sometimes they can get caught up in it and can find themselves in a sticky situation involving pranks or worse. Before that happens, let them know you were once a kid too, and it won’t hurt to walk away when the situation warrants. Don’t forget to set rules for the kids. They’ll love you for it later.

Maybe we’ll be lucky at our house this coming Halloween night. Perhaps we’ll be visited by a Rockwell-like character, or a kid dressed like Goofy or Mickey Mouse or with his or her face painted like a character out of “Cats.”

Or maybe not…

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