Halloween, as most of us know and the rest of us have guessed, has its roots in Europe's Middle Ages, when people were encouraged to give homage on this date to a saint, whose name I forget but it probably has to do with Hallow....something.
This was not a spooky day, as it is supposed to be today.
I remember some of those childhood Halloweens down in Pennsylvania, where there was first a Mischief Night followed by Halloween itself. Of course, in my bigoted family, the mischief was blamed on the Boy Scouts. My family was great for placing blame.
And there was genuine mischief, the usual, toilet paper strewn about, house windows marked, cars marked in one way or another, and some actual damage. For this actual damage was what the Boy Scouts got blamed.
You wouldn't guess that neither my brother nor I were in Boy Scouts. I joined the Cub Scouts, the younger version, because the den mother had a pony, which I got to ride. But not on Halloween.
I remember a girl, who lived up the road from us, and that my big brother led me into tantalizing on Halloween. Why? I have no idea, but I did drag along after my mean big old brother. Over the years, he was mean enough to have been the personage who represented Halloween.
In Maine, Halloween slowly lost its spookiness to the point that most towns hold a Halloween party to keep the younguns off the street Halloween night. At our house in the woods...should I say spooky woods for the sake of the holiday...very few kids showed up. None to do mischief, and a handful on Halloween night itself. These were escorted by their non-mischievous parents. We kept enough candy for a Halloween army, so we ended up chowing down ourselves on it for days to come.
I remember when I taught eighth-grade up in Danforth that my first wife and I held a Halloween party for our little non-angels. The first prank was that we locked ourselves out of our own house...a great accidental Halloween prank. An eighth-grader got in via a porch roof. While not too spooky, it was a great show.
We had the party and the kids returned to their homes or were off to do mischief -- on Halloween -- and we were left to stay up awhile and guard our premises. One student had threatened our house, but as we stayed up awhile we noticed someone's large German Shepard hanging out on our front porch. No mischief that Halloween night. I think the dog wandered our way from across town somewhere...a sign that not all is evil on Halloween.
We suffered no pranks.
Way back when I was a minister....I know you can't remember that far back...but God can. We had typical tame Halloween parties for the kids who attended our church. No problems, no pranks, just snacks to give to the little church attenders.
Up in Bethel, where I first practiced the trade of preaching, we had a late teen, whom we got to know. He never practiced pranks on us, but I toted him here and there for adventures in the forest and along the Appalachian Trail. But he had practiced some kind of evil -- not related to Halloween, because a state trooper told me he was planning to arrest this late teen. I warned the late teen to start behaving, but he must not have. He was arrested.
Don't know what happened to him. The troopers were friendly to us, but I never asked them about their business.
Maybe part of their business was protecting us "innocents" from Halloween pranks. Maybe not, but we were never pranked.
I quietly thanked the troopers, not to their faces, of course, for their Halloween night protection.
For sure, it was they, God, or the pranksters themselves who never bothered us.
Halloween was okay in Bethel.
Hope it was okay at your place this Halloween.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2015