Readers of the Upper Falls News, our neighborhood email newsletter, often send in contributions. Here’s some seasonal memories from Dave Downs of Halloween in Upper Falls many years ago:
I have a few Upper Falls Halloween memories from the early 50s.
I don’t remember that anyone had a “store bought” costume. At our house, we had a large cardboard box in the attic full of old clothes, shoes and hats. We’d find what we needed and transform ourselves into hobos, witches, ghosts, cow boys or girls, etc. It was common for us boys to put on our mother’s old dress and go Trick or Treating as a girl!
We used large paper bags, from the A&P in the Highlands, to collect our goodies. Typically, the woman of the house would hand us an orange or black paper napkin twisted into a bundle filled with homemade cookies, fudge, cupcakes, etc. along with loose store bought candy corn and other delights.
We had Halloween Parties at the Emerson School. I have vague memories of a group of us (children) marching toward the school on High Street after dark in our costumes. I think it was a costume parade.
One year we had a Halloween Party in the recreation room in the basement across from the boy’s room. This must have been before the gymnasium addition in 1955. I remember the highlight of the party was the “Horror Tunnel”. Danny Kerr, our school janitor, with the help of older high school boys, would open the forbidden steam pipe tunnel which was in the school basement. We would have to travel through its dark corridors on our way to the party in the recreation room. I remember one year a large gorilla joined the other ghoulish creatures which popped out at us as we rounded each corner. The gorilla was one of the Bibo brothers.
I remember one year when my older brother Allen and I ventured outside our neighborhood. We had started out early and it wasn’t long before we had visited each home in our neighborhood so we ventured into other neighborhoods a little less familiar. Soon, we’d canvassed those neighborhoods also. With the strong motivation that only candy can provide, we pressed on to add to our treasures before we had to turn back in time to attend the school party.
My brother led the way as we traveled down a familiar but deserted dirt road (Pettee Street?) with no street lights. We passed the school playground on our left and took a sharp right. Moon light blanketed the field on our left and cast ghastly shadows in the pear tree orchard on our right. It seemed that each leafless, twisted old pear tree was about to reach over the wooden rail fence and seize us – revenge for the pears we’d stolen from their branches earlier that year.
At the end of the orchard was a driveway belonging to an old man. This old farmer had often caught us helping ourselves to his pears. He would run out of his dilapidated house, arms waving, yelling threats at us. I gathered up my courage and followed Allen up the dirt driveway.
My brother bravely rang the doorbell. I stood slightly behind him dreading this close encounter with what I considered to be a cranky, mean and scary looking old man.
I was surprised and relieved when the old man opened his door; leaned down towards us, smiled and gave both of us a big shiny red apple. He hadn’t recognized us in our costumes!