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15 Byberry Road
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Michele Melcher Illustration, Philadelphia based illustrator, artist, painter.

Blog

Halloween Part 1 – Trick or Treat.

Michele Melcher

All dressed up with somewhere to go - circa 1976. This is one of my favorite family photos of all time.

All dressed up with somewhere to go - circa 1976. This is one of my favorite family photos of all time.

If you know me you also know that I’m a big fan of Halloween. Being that October and the season of pumpkins, cider and spooks is nearly upon us, I have decided to write a series of entries on my longstanding love affair with the season from now thru the end of October. IMHO, eastern PA was probably one of the best places on earth to be during Halloween as a kid. I still love the area during this time of the year. In daylight, the trees are ablaze in red yellow and orange and come sunset there’s a chill in the air as you sip on your hot cider with ginger snaps.

Growing up in rural mid 1970′s Bucks County, my neighborhood was pretty spread out. A block consisted of a house with a few miles of scrub forest and maybe some cornfields before the next house compared to a regular suburban neighborhood block. So how did my brother, sister and I trick or treat? BY HAYRIDE. FOR REALZ. Yes, as much as I cursed my middle-of-nowhere residence later on as a teenager, I am one of the super lucky few who actually got to go trick or treating as a tot in a hay wagon.

Camera strap in the way. Dated 1974 - I'm just under 2 years old!

Camera strap in the way. Dated 1974 - I'm just under 2 years old!

I don’t know the details but somehow the parents of the area got the awesome idea that it would be much easier to get all of the kids together to go trick or treating instead of running everyone around separately by carload. My sister’s friend’s dad had a tractor and a wagon that 20 or so of us kids would pile into, costumed and all. It was a simpler time back then; the wagon would putt putt along the dark country roads, it’s blinkers on, and nobody had to worry about too much traffic. It would get cold, so we would have layers of thermal underwear, hats, socks and gloves on under our wigs and costumes (see pictures).

The wagon would stop at certain houses along a predetermined route of participating families. Everyone would jump out of the wagon and run up to the house to get their treats from the waiting hosts. One of the stops on the route was my house and I always remember my mom handing out candy to everyone filing into our kitchen and I’d stop to warm up my numb fingers over the kerosene heater. Then it was a mad dash back outside into the chilly night, clambering up into the wagon while trying to see through your mask and not lose track of your treat bag. I remember that there was a house that we would always stop at that would just leave a gigantic bowl of candy out on their front step for everyone because the inhabitants weren’t home. Ha, try doing that nowadays! I wish that I had more pictures from what I call the “hayride era” but these are all that I have. You can believe that we had some good times.