The Farm Chronicles: Halloween in Wayland

Back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, we didn’t have the information age booming in our faces every hour of every day. We did have a newspaper, a radio station and three television stations, not counting the UHF stations that you could dial in if the weather was right. So we didn’t know a lot about the spiritual nature of Halloween. We just thought it was a night where we got to dress up in costumes and have some fun. It was, after all, “trick or treat,” which I didn’t really understand the “trick” part. Everyone was so gracious with the treats that we didn’t think about the “trick.” Once in a while we would hear about teenagers tipping outhouses—yes, we did have outhouses and folks would really get mad if they were tipped over.

So Trick or Treat usually started when my cousin Steve, three years younger than me, and I picked out a costume at Skorman’s Miracle Mart in downtown Ravenna. Now these costumes were pretty cheesy. The body of the costume was made out of some flimsy silky material that had the theme of the costume died or printed on it. Sometimes there was glitter glued on it, but it came off pretty quickly, especially if there was rain—and there usually was in October in Northeastern Ohio. The masks were made out of a very stiff latex with little slits on the mouth and nose and a very thin elastic band stapled to each side of them so they would stay on our faces. These masks were terrible because you could rarely see where you were walking. And you could hardly breathe.

All dressed up, we would start at Doris and Ernie Evans house. Doris always had popcorn balls. They were my favorite treat. She was like a second mother to me and was the one who taught me how to make popcorn. She would always make over us like she didn’t know who we were, and we believed it, even though, when you think about it my Mom and Aunt Dory were with us, who else could we be? Then it was on to Wayland, a very small community across the Mahoning River. The first house on the right was Mrs. Martin’s. We didn’t like stopping there because she would always make us take our masks off and reveal who we were. I guess she got a kick out of seeing our little faces. We found it quite annoying. Then we could walk through the rest of the little village going door to door.

Most Halloweens were cold and wet. We were like little puff balls trying to walk with our costumes on and layers of warm clothing beneath. We couldn’t see where we were going because of the masks not fitting right. But we would manage to make it up the steps of each porch and yell “Trick or Treat!” We were always anxious to get home quickly after the last house, which was Luella Shade’s. She had a pet fox. We hurried to get back home to sort out the candy and, of course, eat it, which was strongly limited by Mom so we didn’t get sick. That’s what Halloween was to us. Ephesians 4:27 says, “Never give place to the devil.” It never crossed our minds. We weren’t paying homage to the devil. We were just having fun and so were the adults who took joy in seeing us dressed up in weird costumes. That was then, this is now.

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Bill Wilson

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