My Corner, Your Corner: Trick or treating in the days of yore

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio | November 5th, 2015 8:55 am

Last weekend was All Hallows’ Eve, better known as Halloween. The sidewalks were lined with ghosts and goblins and Caitlyn Jenner outfits. Caitlyn Jenner?

Halloween has changed a lot since my day of trick or treating.

In those days, Halloween outfits consisted of going to the nearest department store and looking through boxes and boxes of costumes in the Halloween section. The top of the box was clear so you could see the mask. I can recall going through boxes to not only find the right costume, but also the right size.

Each box had sizes listed on them and if it was close to Halloween, there was the possibility you wouldn’t find your size.

My mom would make me try on a costume and she made sure it was a size too big so I could wear it again the following year. Being that I had an older brother, Mom often stored the costumes in case one of us could wear them again.

The costumes were like hospital gowns with legs. You would have to slide into the back of them, pull them up and tie them behind your neck. Some were made from a light material that often had glitter in the design or were made of plastic.

Going from house to house in the chilly air, we would breathe into the plastic masks, causing condensation to form on the inside. by the end of the season, the inside of that mask was wet and nasty.

We didn’t just trick or treat on Halloween evening, we went a few days in a row starting two or three days before and continuing a day or so afterwards.

I guess that sounds a big overboard and crazy, but we did it. Many households accepted us.

The key to a successful Halloween season was being respectful. If a porch light was on, we were good as gold.

Oddly enough, we didn’t get a lot of chocolate. We received apples, small bags of chips, licorice, candy corn and, of course, my favorite — money!

As you can imagine, working the streets like we did as often as we did allowed us to make a haul. It was fun and innocent and so many in town were receptive of letting us into their homes to sing. Yes, we sang a Halloween song of sorts and, if we showed up at a home and didn’t sing, we often didn’t get a treat until we did.

Two songs I recall were “The Witches are Calling… Yoo Hoo, Yoo Hoo,” and “Halloween is Coming.” It’s pretty funny that I can still remember those songs. It was great passing down those songs to my own children. Do you remember your favorite Halloween song?

When I reached my early teens, we did homemade costumes. When I was stuck on an idea, I always went to the “hippy” look. I was a creative genius back then, but again, it was about having fun.

One last memory I’ll share was going to “The Mansion” in West Pittston. For those of you living somewhere other than West Pittston, the Hughes family owned the house – a rather large one — on Delaware Avenue. We always thought it was haunted but, of course, it wasn’t. The older woman who lived there was a bit of a recluse and nobody ever saw her — at least I didn’t, and I grew up a half a block away.

Today, the tradition continues and is the focal point of Halloween in the borough. Mike and Elaine Pugliese decorate the exterior of the home with all kinds of scary things and I wouldn’t doubt if well over 100 children grab treats there. It’s so busy on that corner, the West Pittston Police Department has to have someone on hand for traffic control.

Some things never change. Halloween is one tradition I’m glad still exists — except for the costumes, of course.

Quote of the week

“When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly-balanced courses of action you should take – choose the bolder.” — Ezra Pound, American poet.

Thought of the week

“Those who weep recover more quickly than those who smile.” – Jean Giraudoux, French novelist.

Bumper sticker

“The secret of art is love.” – Antoine Bourdelle, French sculptor.

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at