Beggars Night

All Hallows Eve, or Halloween was once a day on which to honor the dead. From that to an era of dressing up in costumes from bizarre to funny, from frightful to banal the once holy day evolved to another excuse to party and became more an adult caper than a children’s event.

As a child of almost six years, back in the late 1940s I tagged along with my Aunt Bernie, who is a year and a half my elder, and some of her second grade friends because my family was between houses and therefore, living a few months in my grandparents’ home in Parma, Ohio.

We went out trick or treating on “Beggars Night” the day before Halloween, calling out “Please help the poor!” We went out again on Halloween evening right after dark just calling for tricks or treats, combing the neighborhood, with no fear of finding razor blades in apples and with no worry to our parents about our safety.   I certainly do not recall feasting on that candy after collecting it. As tiny children trooping around the neighborhood unaccompanied by any adults, we most assuredly did not limit our haunting to our own street. Neither we nor our parents seemed concerned for our safety.

I rarely say the good old days or things were so much better in the 1950s, but a little sigh escapes me when I consider how much different our lives are today and how much is lost to younger generations.

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