Updated: Nov 5
When I was a kid in the 1950’s, Trick or Treating was a pretty sedate affair. Kids dressed up in costumes, I typically dressed up as a farmer, and went from house to house asking for, and getting, candy. There was always a party at my one-room school, where we showed off our costumes, bobbed for apples, and ate fall treats and, of course, candy.
For some, both in the olden days and up to modern times, Trick or Treating was more about Tricks than Treats, especially among the older boys. Some of the “tricks” practiced under the guise of “holiday fun”
Tipping over outhouses, usually when no one was inside
Placing a ripe tomato on the driver’s seat of a cop car
Tying tin cans to the back of a car, any car
“Borrowing” farm animals and taking them to a different, more prominent location
Hanging a rowboat over Main Street
Placing a farm wagon on top of a roof
Switching street and traffic signs
Hanging outdoor furniture in trees
Decorating a subway car to resemble a haunted house
Over the years, the citizenry became more and more angry about these pranks as some of them left lasting damage (throwing rotten cabbages or tomatoes through windows, rampaging through gardens and crops, etc.). Movements were attempted to eliminate or at least change what happened on Halloween. Most of them failed, but one prevailed: Treat or Treat for UNICEF (you can read about it here).
I think the way it was celebrated when I was young, and the way it is celebrated by most kids now, is the most fun and the least damaging!