When All-Day Fun Didn’t Cost a Dime!

Oct 26, 2017 | 2 comments

Cowboy Nyel, 1947

We were talking about Halloween and the costumes we remembered from childhood.  Always cobbled together, of course, from whatever we could beg from our long-suffering parents – including forays into mom’s makeup for the finishing touches.  If ‘store-bought’ costumes were available, we’d never heard of them.  It was way before the days of Walmart et al had taken the fun out of Halloween – just like they’ve ruined every other holiday.

“It was back when you could play all day in the empty lot down the street and it wouldn’t cost a dime,” Nyel said.  “And, if you did have a dime, you could go to the Saturday matinee and see the newsreel, several short subjects, a cartoon, and a double feature Western!  All for a dime!”

Yep.  We both remember that empty lot – his in Montpelier, Idaho, and mine in Alameda, California.  We dug holes and built forts with found pieces of lumber.  We chased grasshoppers and blew the fluff from dandelions-gone-to seed and held buttercups under each other’s chins.  We played King of the Mountain on the highest spot and used the fence along the back as home-base for hide-and-seek.  Olly Olly Oxen Free!

Halloween Witch

We felt really rich if we had a penny and could buy a couple of wax bottles – those ones that had juice inside.  Bite off the top, suck out the juice, and chew the wax all day like gum – or until your jaws got tired.  Or how about those red licorice lips and black licorice mustaches?  And, of course, we weren’t beyond dashing home to beg for a nickel for an ice cream bar if we heard the Good Humor Man’s bell in the distance.  (Nyel says there was no Good Humor Man in Montpelier.  “A deprived childhood,” I say.)

But… back to the Halloween costumes.  We both agree that we miss those days of imagination and innovation but we can’t really remember any ‘stand-out’ creations.  Nyel says he usually dressed as a cowboy and I think I was usually a gypsy.  Come to think of it, the last costume party we went to wasn’t that long ago and I think we went as…  a cowboy and a gypsy!  It’s reassuring, somehow, that some things haven’t changed!


  1. Marion Freshley

    It was fun trying to come up with an imaginative costume in ‘our day’ as everything wasn’t done for us like now. Trick ‘ r treating in Ocean Park was so much fun. There was always an elderly lady that would give us hot cider and donuts which is a no no these days as it isn’t wrapped. Would you say kids enjoyed Halloween more then or now? Interesting!

    • sydney

      I think we probably had more fun then — mostly because ‘events’ like Halloween were few and far between. Nowadays it seems like there is one celebration right after another and they are all ‘over the top.’


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *