Happy Autumn, Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice about Fall!

Happy Autumn, Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice about Fall!

Living on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, September can oftentimes feel more like Summer than Autumn, despite what any calendar says.  We do, however, usually receive a tempting tease or two of cooler Autumn temperatures during the month, and such was the case last week when daytime highs dipped into the mid-70s with nighttime lows in the mid-50s. (Temperatures given in the Fahrenheit temperature scale, of course, because living in the U.S. that is what we do it seems, the rest of the world and the scientific community with all their Celsius stuff be hanged.)

The air was cool and brisk. Morning walks were delightful. During evening walks, the faint scent of heavenly woodsmoke from a neighbor’s backyard firepit drifted thru the air. As anyone who has followed my pages here for a while is well aware, Autumn is far and away my favorite season of the year.

And now, as we are about to turn the calendar page to October, there is only one thing left to say —

Happy Fall, Y’all!!

Happy October!  Happy Autumn!  October is the perennial gateway to my very favorite time of the year — Autumn and the Holiday Season!

Here in our neck of the woods, besides getting back into Boots and Blue Jeans these are a few of our favorite things — Sweaters, Changing Fall Leaves, Crisp Mornings, Chilly Evenings with Woodsmoke in the air, Listening to the honking of Migrating Geese overhead, Raking Leaves followed by Hot Chocolate, Apple Butter, Cider, Pies, Warm Muffins with Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice!

With Summer my least favorite time of the year due to various health issues it presents for me personally, I always view the advent of Autumn and its promise of the coming holiday season as my personal reward for having survived yet another summer’s onslaught of midwest heat and humidity.  Having survived once again now it’s time to run outside, do my “Falling Happy Leaves Dance” on the front lawn, and PARTY!

I don’t feel alone in this view, because I believe even the most casual observer would agree that Mother Nature must certainly agree with me as she decorates all the trees and hills in a riot of colors each fall. Mother Nature is partying right along with me!

To help little ones and others to get into the spirit of the Autumn season, we have added a new collection of coloring images to the site — Little Red Bear’s “Happy Autumn Season” Coloring Pages!  Gather the little ones around and feel free to download, color, and share as many as you like.  Free of charge, of course. Little Red Bear is adamant about that. As he has stated so many times —

“It’s just not right to charge people for having fun, learning something, and having a good time. Gettin’ it free is most of the fun, anyhow!”

We hope you enjoy this new section, along with our collection of other fun and educational features here on the site.

So, what do you look most forward to in the coming Autumn period? Please do not be shy. Little Red Bear loves to hear what folks have to say, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section.

While not having posted regularly here for a spell attending to some personal health issues (not COVID related) the past few months, my story character Little Red Bear and I have nonetheless kept very busy preparing several new blog features and items you will be seeing very soon. Some new features we have recently added for the little ones include —

Here is a sample of just a few of the things we are working on for you to enjoy here in the coming weeks ahead . . . .

  • 101 Things To Do In The Fall
  • Time To Clean Out Bird Nest Boxes In October
  • Autumn Activities & Nature Scavenger Hunt
  • Happy Halloween Spooktacularly Good Recipes Special III
  • How To Preserve Autumn Leaves and Clean Pinecones for Holiday Displays
  • The Impact of Climate Change on Bird Migrations
  • Creating An Autumn Nature Leaf and Other Family Art Projects
  • Squirrel Proofing Your Bird Feeders
  • All About “Pie Birds” and Holiday Pie Recipes
  • And  Many More!

As the topics of Global Warming and Climate Change seem to dominate the news ever more each month as one disaster follows another, watch for more Nature, Conservation, and Environmentally-themed posts coming soon, as well.  As evidenced by the wildfires ravaging not only the west but also the world, the fuse is literally burning down on these issues.

I invite you to check out my original short story “Haystack Harry” during the Autumn season. Please feel free to share it with family and friends, because that is simply how we roll here.

Also, Little Red Bear has agreed to once again make himself available to respond to readers’ questions and comments in his “Ask Little Red Bear” segment, a very popular feature in the past. If you or a youngster have a question about something dealing with Nature or the Environment, please just drop him a note here.

Little Red Bear and I aren’t so big on relationship questions, but if you find yourself up a creek with no one else to turn to with something of that sort,  please feel free to go ahead and send those tricky questions in too, and we will do our best to try and help you out.

Little Red Bear promises to provide honest and factual information in response to all questions, and lacking the same will do his very best to make up something fun and interesting for you. Bearing in mind, of course, that we are both unabashed storytellers, after all.

I invite and encourage you to also visit with some of my wonderful writer friends to check out their pages and views on the coming Autumn season!

Cat Michaels — “What’s Not to Love? – Six Things to Make You Fall for Fall”

Rebecca Lyndsey  “Fall Favorites”

Julie Schooler 3 Harmful Habits to Cast Aside in the New Season”

Julie Gorges — “A Fall Self-Care Bucket List to Make the Most Out of Autumn” 

Sandra Bennett  — “Spring Into The Season”

Rosie Russell — “Jumping Into Fall With Big News At Books By Rose”

Auden Johnson — “What’s On Your Fall Bucket List?”

Thank you always for stopping in to visit with us!  Little Red Bear and I are pleased as blackberry punch to share the upcoming Autumn and Holiday Season with you!

So until the next time, we wish you and yours a delightful fall season filled with pumpkin spice and everything nice.

Best Wishes for a Beautiful, Healthy, and Happy Autumn Season! — Jim  (and Red!)

If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart”  and  Wishing You Deep Peace, Love, Happiness, and Joy –  And A Very Good Day! 

(New Visitors — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” and “About the Blog, Jim & Little Red Bear” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)

“For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.” – Edwin Way Teale 

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”  – Delia Owens, “Where the Crawdads Sing”

Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

    “And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde 

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!

                      “It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!” — Winnie the Pooh


In A “Back-To-School” Memory Daze — Announcing “Little Red Bear’s Back To School” Coloring Pages!

Happy Back To School time!

Shareable new materials have been in rather short supply here for a spell while I stepped aside to attend to some pressing personal health (non-COVID related) issues. In the interim though, I have nevertheless been working on background items and new features to be revealed in the near future, so please do stay tuned, as they say.

We will talk about some of those issues that kept me away along with some other things in a coming post soon.  But for now, although while still not fully back in the writing saddle quite yet, with it being “Back To School” time and my favorite season of Autumn on the horizon, let’s get it all rolling again with one of those new features I mentioned, shall we?

Now at age 71, “Back to School” in my day many years ago was special. It was almost a season in itself.  An abbreviated period as compared with the traditional four seasons, no doubt, but with the exception of the still-hot and humid readings on the thermometer each afternoon, “Summer” had officially been declared “over with” by my Mother, and school preparation activities dominated each day.

There were new school clothes to shop for, along with new shoes and required gym outfits to acquire. (I missed the memo when they stopped calling it “Gym” and began referring to it as “P.E.”, short for “Physical Education.”  I simply kept calling it “gym class”, but digress.) In addition to clothing items, there were notebooks, pens, and Number 2 pencils to stock up on, along with erasers, scissors, crayons, rulers, Elmer’s School Glue, and who knows what else.

And not to leave out the mandatory end-of-summer haircut, of course. My best friend Rick lived down the hill in a corner lot about two houses down in the back. Rick, the oldest, came from a family of five kids consisting of four boys and one severely outnumbered sister. The night before school restarted each year, we would watch Rick and the other kids all line up in the backyard as their mother gave one after another the annual Start of School Haircut. Then in for a bath and off to bed for an early rise in the morning.

We had strict dress codes back in the day, even in the public schools I attended. Girls were required to wear a dress or skirt, the shortest of which could reach no higher than mid-knee. Tee shirts, sweatshirts, and sweat pants were not allowed for anyone. For boys, all shirts had to have collars and buttons. Hair on boys was not allowed to touch the shirt collar. Socks were mandatory and gym-type shoes were only allowed in Gym class. At the same time, no soled shoes were allowed anywhere near the pristine wooden gym flooring.

All pants were required to have belt loops and be held at the waist by a belt. Failure to wear a belt resulted in being sent to “The Office” for a visit and attitude adjustment session with the Assistant Principal, or as we kids mockingly referred to him as — the “Enforcer In Chief.” After a stern lecture about how flaunting the rules and not wearing a belt could negatively impact the remainder of a ten-year-old’s life, the beltless boy would be given a length of rope to wear around the waist for the remainder of the day, a clearly visible (and embarrassing) signal and dire warning to every other boy not to forget a belt in the morning rush out the door.

And of course, one could not hide the fact they had forgotten to wear a belt that day, because all shirttails had to be tucked in. The belt omission was clearly obvious to anyone paying attention. A rather trivial issue it seemed to me at the time, although all the teachers seemed inordinately obsessed with it, in my opinion.

Personally, I was never apprehended without a belt, neither wanting to risk a visit with the Enforcer In Chief nor suffer the embarrassment of wearing a long rope around my waist. Always careful to obey the rules and do my best to stay out of trouble back then, I do admit to having contemplated the possibility of wearing overalls one day to challenge the belt rule but lacked the courage to act upon the urge, not having yet transitioned into the independently-minded “Rule-Challenger-For-The-Fun-Of-It” I became later in life and remain today.

Getting back to it then, our Back to School feelings were always kind of a mixed bag. The excitement of seeing school friends we had lost contact with over the summer was mixed with the uncertainty of what new teachers might be like. Everyone seemed to have an ingredient to add to the simmering pot of New Teacher Trepidation —

  • “I hear Mr. Townsend is a real beast with math homework and has never given anyone an ‘A’ grade. He assigns homework every night. And every weekend!”
  • “Miss Burns always makes the girls in her English class get down on their knees at the start of every class to make sure their skirts touch the floor.” 
  • “Mr. Grimharsh had a friend of mine in gym class who would not stop chewing bubblegum last year, so after telling him twice to get rid of it made him spit out the gum and then stuck it in his hair. Johnny Jones had to go to the barber and get a crewcut after school. A crewcut!”
  • “Miss Hendricks only accepts writing assignments and homework in blue ink. She will give you an “F” if your paper is written in pencil because she wants to see all the changes you make and not be able to erase them. Always remember to take a blue ink pen with you to her class.”
  • “Mr. Miller told the kids in his Science class last year that the word ‘Fire’ begins and ends with an ‘F’. If you set anything on fire in his class it will end in an ‘F’ grade for the quarter. And if you break something you have to pay for it! My weekly allowance won’t cover the cost of a microscope!”
  • “Why do I have to choose between French and Spanish this year? Miss Burns told me last year it was clearly evident that I hadn’t mastered the English language yet. And now they expect me to learn a second language, too?!?”
  • Mr. Newchance lets you take any History test you fail over again, but the best grade you can get then is a “C”, even if you get everything correct.”
  • “My Dad said that if I have over a ‘B’ average at Thanksgiving that he would buy me a new electric guitar for Christmas. But I can’t even spell Triggernumery, much less do it! I am going to start saving up for a new set of strings for my old guitar, just in case.”

On and on the gossip and info-dumps went over the last few weeks leading up to the start of school each fall. Of course, in my time, school always restarted with a half-day on the day after Labor Day each year. Never in early or mid-August as so many do now. And it goes without saying that nobody went to a school with air-conditioning in those days, and school was never called off due to excessive heat.

For us boys sitting in school with long pants on after spending the summer in shorts and swim trunks, we were just hot, plain and simple. Desk papers stuck to our forearms from the sweat running down our arms, and wasps buzzed around our heads, having flown in thru open windows. One large and very loud fan in the front corner tried to cool the classroom but caused us to simply not be able to hear the teacher who no one was paying attention to in all the heat, anyway.

And don’t even get me started about the mile-and-a-quarter walk to and from school every morning and afternoon, regardless of the weather, — rain, snow, or shine. And yes, sure enough in our case, it truly was more or less uphill both ways because there was a big valley between home and school regardless of which way we were heading.

Looking back on it now, it is fair to say we had generally pleasant while at the same time somewhat queasy feelings about the whole “Back to School” thing each year. A goodly bit of eagerness and excitement over new school clothes and the prospect of reuniting with friends was more than tempered by a healthy dose of general apprehension and miserably hot 90-degree temperatures lasting thru mid-to-late-September in our neck of the woods. It is probably fair to say that in my circle of friends, anyway, when it came to the “Back-To-School” thing each year, we could generally take it or leave it. In our minds, there were still too many perfect days on the calendar for baseball and bike riding to waste them all shopping and trying on endless changes of clothes in a hot department store.

But, in the end, mixed feelings or not, we always seemed to find our way back on the first day of school each autumn, didn’t we?  Maybe we were a little more excited about the whole “Back-to-School” thing than we were willing to admit or let on in public, after all.

What are your “Back to School” memories? Good? Bad? Or mixed, like ours? Please don’t be shy. Feel free to share them with us in the Comments Section.

To help ease the annual End-of-Summer and Back-To-School transition for older kids and build excitement about the new experience for younger ones, my story friend Little Red Bear has assembled a collection of Back-to-School-themed coloring images with varying degrees of complexity for all ages.

Coloring images are available for unlimited Free downloads simply by ‘Right Clicking’ on an image, choosing ‘Save Image As’ in the dropdown menu to save a local copy on your computer or device, and then printing out as many as you want.

It is our hope that these pages, made possible thru the kind assistance and support of our Patreon Community, provide a means for not only preparing and generating excitement for going back to school, but also for spending quality family time together — reading, coloring, and learning. Simply Tap Here to view them all and get started!

 “Thank You!” for visiting and spending part of your time with us! We always look forward to your visits and comments, because YOU are the reason we do it all.
My story friend Little Red Bear and I hope that you and any little ones heading off to school enjoy this post and Red’s new “Back-To-School” Coloring Pages. As always, please feel free to share and pass along to family and friends!
We have a great deal of new material and features to share with you over the coming months so please visit often. If not yet subscribed yet please register now to follow along and be notified of every coming new post and feature here.  — Jim  (and Red!)

Please consider joining our Patreon Community today to help us grow and keep freely-shared, family-friendly educational new materials and features coming, helping to make a positive difference in the world!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy “Wishing You Happiness, Peace, Joy — And A Very Good Day!” and Little Red Bear’s growing “Animal Alphabet Coloring Pages!”

(New Visitors — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” and “About the Blog, Jim & Little Red Bear” — and Sign Up Now to follow along and be notified of every new post!)

              “Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.”  — Bill Dodds
       “Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed.”       — Robert Gallagher

Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Find out what readers have to say about Little Red Bear and His Friends!

(Royalties from the sale of Little Red Bear’s books go directly to supporting this site.)

“Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.” — Doug Larson

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” — Lily Tomlin 

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!

“Let us remember: One Book, One Pen, One Child, and One Teacher can change the World.” — Malala Yousafzai

Happy Halloween! — A Nostalgic Look Back at Trick or Treating in Days of Yore

Happy Halloween!

          It’s that magical time of the year, when little ghosts and goblins appear.                                       Scampering up and down the streets, scurrying around with bags of treats.                     Trick or treating back when I was eight; oh, the candy bars then were truly great!

Halloween has changed much over the years. Halloween Trick or Treating in my neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri growing up in the 1950’s and early 60’s  frequently featured homemade baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, brownies, Rice Krispie treats, homemade popcorn balls, and more —  all carefully bundled in plastic wrap. Homemade candied apples were a real treat, along with homemade taffy and fudge at some homes.

And every year — without fail — a few slices of cake wrapped in plastic wrap which always seemed to find their way to the bottom of the treat bag to inevitably end up smashed flat or crumbled before I got home. But cake crumbs are cake nonetheless, so nothing ever went to waste.

Cupcakes, cookies, and brownies always seemed to survive better in the bag than a slice of cake for some reason. Despite being young, even then I appreciated the all-day effort of having baked and decorated what had to be several handmade cakes for slicing, wrapping, and handing out on Halloween night, and knew their hearts were in the right place with it all. But still find myself asking and wondering to this day — really, what were those folks thinking to hand out a wrapped slice of cake for a treat bag?

Appearing a few decades ahead of their time perhaps, there were also a few health conscious homes in the neighborhood who handed out fresh apples along with the occasional orange, banana, or assorted nuts tossed into the bag. We politely said “thank you”, never wanting ungratefulness to poison the well for next year in case they came to their senses at some point, but shaking our heads leaving just the same.

Older folks were known for frequently giving out pennies and other loose change, along with an occasional pencil or two. I always just figured they were older and not able to travel to the store easily to stock up on the really good stuff, but trying as best they could, nevertheless. And that was good enough for us, with “old people” perhaps more highly regarded and respected in those days. We don’t hear the term “hardening of the arteries” much anymore. I think that’s because the medical and drug folks can all charge more for terms like “arteriosclerosis” and “atherosclerosis” because it sounds much more serious. But, may be wrong. Getting back to Halloween, then.

Bubble Gum, Tootsie Roll Pops, Tootsie Rolls, Wax Bottles,  Caramels, Jaw Breakers (always a favorite of mine!), Sugar Daddies, Jelly Beans, Candy Corn, Boston Baked Beans, Milk Duds, Caramels, Saf-T-Pop Suckers with their looped handles, Circus Peanuts, Licorice, and boxes of Cracker Jacks helped fill out the treat bag. Red Spanish Peanuts were popular, too.  Many of the items simply tossed loose and unwrapped into the bag, of course. Individually wrapped packages were only just beginning to come onto the scene at the time.

Some folks didn’t bother with the process of making a popcorn ball, choosing instead to merely wrap the loose popcorn in plastic wrap gathered and tied with a twisty tie. I usually jammed those into a side pocket for a handy street snack along the way later. It was good because it was both filling and wouldn’t sticky-up your hands like candy.

All of this, and of course not to leave out the truly treasured and most sought-after Halloween prize — Candy Bars!  There were only two sizes of candy bars generally available at that time — ‘Full Size’ and the larger “I May Need Help Carrying This One Home Size”.

Some homes offered cold apple cider to refresh on an occasionally warm evening, or hot chocolate in paper cups on especially chilly nights.  Every home seemed warm and welcoming, and homes without a front porch light on to welcome and light the way for visitors were rare indeed.

Growing up in the Midwest, Halloween nights could and did vary from warm to chilly to bone-shivering cold. Nobody under the age of adult ever wanted to cover their costume with a raincoat or parka!

I remember trick or treating in the snow twice. How could one forget something so truly magical as that? And recall more than a few rainy nights in the time when trick or treat bags were truly paper bags in every sense of the word, long before plastic bags and plastic tote pumpkins arrived on the scene. More than a few friends had the bottom burst on a rain-soaked bag, dumping all of their Halloween treasures on the wet sidewalk.

Fortunately, I escaped that calamitous fate thru the years, likely due in no small part to my beloved Mother making me carry an umbrella with me, no doubt. Carefully tilted to protect the treat bag held high and dry, naturally.

It almost goes without saying that every stop required us to actually come inside the house and perform in the living room — tell a joke, tell a story, sing a song, dance, do a trick, stand on our head, or do “something” to earn our Treats. Unearned giveaways were rare. Somersaults were always a big hit for the littlest kids to do.

A good costume got you in the door, but that alone would not fill the treat bag. We were all expected to work for our candy and treats, patiently standing in line awaiting our turn to perform. With only three channels on the black and white television sets and dodgy reception most times, a steady line of kids performing was great entertainment rivaling and surpassing anything on the TV for the night. So, entertain we did. Milton Berle and Jack Benny would have to wait for their turns that night, too.

“Knock Knock” jokes, while usually not earning the highest performance awards of a candy bar, were always reliable in a pinch to rescue the situation when the strange kid in front of you stole your best joke or trick, so the astute Trick or Treater always kept a few entertaining jokes in reserve just in case.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Orange who?
Orange you going to give me some candy?

Although that particular little diddy ran the risk of getting you an orange instead of a Baby Ruth.

But a good “Knock Knock” joke could usually be relied upon to be rewarded with at least a popcorn ball.  If the household had just heard the same joke three times before you arrived, you were probably doomed for pennies, though. And maybe a short lecture about coming better prepared next year.

And it did happen occasionally, as hot new jokes seemed to cycle thru the neighborhood in a given year —“Better tell me another one son, or it’s three pennies for you.  I just heard that one five times before you got here!  What else you got in your trick bag?”

Holiday- Halloween- Art 4

Trick or Treating done correctly was literally a performance art, requiring hours and hours of pre-planning, preparation, and dedication.  And on Halloween night, it was a process that could not be rushed if anticipated rewards were to be realized.  A good performance took both time and commitment to the craft.  On a successful night, multiple stops home might be needed to offload full bags and then head back out for more.  Candy bars being the truly sought-after prize, of course!

It was good to work together, not only in your group so everyone had their own unique performance art for the night, but also coordinating with other groups on the street, as it could save a lot of walking and shoe leather. We never realized at the time that Halloween night was a great exercise in developing teamwork skills.

“Don’t bother stopping here, Jim.  Old lady Jones is already out of candy and dumped pennies in our bags.  But the Haskins has still got Snickers I heard.”

Forewarned, time could be saved by heading only towards the high rollers still handing out candy bars and cupcakes.  By 6:45, everybody on the street knew which house was giving out what, which naturally led to candy bar homes running out before the Bazooka Gum, safety suckers, and fruit houses.

When you spied groups of kids running towards a particular house, you knew to hurry there next.  When you saw kids walking down the driveway shaking their sacks and hearing “thump, thump, thump,” you knew they’d been fruited.  So unless really hungry for an apple, best to pass that one by and come back later.  Chances were pretty good they’d still be open for business at nine.

Can’t speak for others, but on a few occasions, I was treated with Silver Dollars. Honest-to-goodness, better-than-Musketeers, real Silver Dollars!  Sometimes it was wise not to be “too” disguised when visiting favorite neighbors, or those you had helped with summer yard work or fall leaf-raking.

But that was without a doubt at the same time both the awesomest and bothersomest treat one could receive, being simply too special to spend and convert to candy.  Gather enough pennies and nickles from the bottom of the bag and you could quickly convert that into cool, hard, candy. Not so with silver dollars. That just never seemed right to even consider doing.

I still have Halloween silver dollars stashed safely away in the back of a dresser drawer tucked beneath layers of underwear for safekeeping. Back in the day, no self-respecting burglar (or sister) would think of rummaging thru someone’s underwear drawer for loot.  The same silver dollars still tucked safely away from years ago I should perhaps add, not the same underwear, of course. Just, to be clear on that point.

It probably goes without saying, but that stashing away part never would have happened with a Three Musketeers.

Holiday- Halloween- Art 7

Costumes were usually homemade, wholly or at least partly by the kids themselves. Big-footed clowns, cowboys and Lone Rangers with masks, knights with aluminum foil helmets carrying cardboard or wooden swords and shields, Indians in feathers and war paint, policemen, miniature firefighters, princesses with capes and crowns, angels with halos and wings, red-caped devils complete with garden pitchforks, army soldiers in their fathers’ oversized WWII and Korean War gear and helmets, scarecrows stuffed with straw, and ugly-nosed, warty witches with brooms.  A few Tinmen from Oz here and there,  but that was a hard costume to pull off without a lot of help from parents.

Along with many a hobo, most patterned after Red Skelton’s famous “Freddie the Freeloader” character at the time. It was a fun costume which I employed a few times, raiding Dad’s closet for over-sized, baggy clothes, and a hat. He never would part with one of his cigars in order to pull off the complete ensemble look, though.

All accompanied by the predictable number of white-sheeted ghosts floating over the sidewalks, of course.  Skeletons were fairly rare in those days because that was mostly a store-bought costume that neither kids nor parents wanted to admit to having to resort to, as everyone took pride in their self-made costumery.

We talked about them a lot in name but no one ever really knew what a Goblin was to make a costume for it.  It was just a creature of myth and folklore that we did not want to run into on the street that night because chances were pretty good it wouldn’t be a kid in a costume.  Ghosts with eye holes were generally considered pretty safe to approach, though.

Clearly the most outstanding costume I remember was when the older, bigger, “I’m-better-than-you-are” neighbor kid across the street’s father made him the scariest and true-to-life realistic Headless Horseman costume since Ichabod Crane galloped on a plow horse thru Sleepy Hollow, complete with fake dripping blood around the collar and a glowing pumpkin carried on a stick for his head.

Apparently, his dad had worked on the Headless Horseman costume all summer in the garage, keeping it a secret from the neighborhood.  Yeah, every block had one of those kids.  Looking back on it now, he rather sadly always went out on Halloween as a group of one, by himself with his father in tow, helping to carry the bags of candy his son accumulated along the way. Yes — bags — plural. My father was at home, warm and dry, being entertained by endless troops of kids in the living room. His father was serving as a pack mule in the cold and wet. He only needed the costume, he was already doing all the work.

Sometimes I wondered if the Headless Horseman might have been happier in a white sheet running along with the rest of the neighborhood candy scroungers.  It was hard to tell, even back then, if a jerk was alone because he was a jerk or if he was a jerk because he was alone.  Whichever, receiving double rations and more from almost every house, the Headless Horseman made a record haul of candy that year that no one ever came close to matching and that we never heard the end of.

Runner-up for the best-ever costume was the same kid the year before, a square-headed Frankenstein costume his dad whipped up complete with bolts coming out of his neck and walking on platform shoes and getting double-treated again.  Jerk.


Trick or Treating certainly isn’t anything like it used to be.  Many more costumes come off racks in the store or delivered straight to the door from online ordering rather than pridefully homemade nowadays. The only Super Heroes in our minds back then were the parents giving out candy bars on the block.

Kids in our neighborhood now look at you like you have worms crawling out of your ears (which might actually be a good look for Halloween) if you ask them to do anything beyond hold their bag open to toss the candy inside. Forget the carefully staged and choreographed song and dance numbers in the living room. Some don’t even hold the bag open, expecting you to bend over and do that, too.

And regrettably, there are all the safety issues that never even crossed anyone’s mind in our time. Carrying a flashlight in order to “see and be seen” was all we were warned about. X-rays weren’t for candy. They were for broken bones when you missed the last porch step in the dark.

Most curious of all, candy now comes in the “Fun Sized” version, which try as I might, I still don’t see much fun in it. Talk about the ultimate Halloween trick!

Times change. But the Halloween magic of little children trick or treating doesn’t, and they aren’t seeing the night thru our memories, busily having fun and making memories of their own.  Want to make a special memory for a little princess or cowboy?  Give them a full-sized candy bar and watch their eyes light up!  Although, you better be prepared for the onslaught up the driveway when the word hits the street!  Some things never change.

Here are a few Halloween Safety Tips and Guidelines from the National Safety Council to help keep your children and little neighborhood trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween night.

Happy Halloween!  Here’s hoping full-sized candy bars and overflowing treat bags for everyone!  Please keep an eye out for the little Trick or Treaters in the streets, keep the front porch light on, and remember to “Scare Safe!”

Thanks as always for stopping by for a visit and spending part of your day with us! Little Red Bear and I are off now to work on our costumes. Think I’ll be a cowboy this year. I was going to go as an author, but Little Red Bear quickly pointed out that I masquerade as a writer every day so should try something different for Halloween.  Yeah, that kind of took the fun out of that one, so a cowboy it is.

Happy Halloween!  — Jim (and Red!)

“Every pumpkin knows that a Smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks!”

“A full bag, tired feet, dry socks, and sticky fingers meant it was a Happy Halloween.”– JRM

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.” — Erma Bombeck

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.