Another Magical Children’s Holiday
Halloween Preparations of Mid 1960’s
Halloween in the mid 1960’s seemed like a magical time of the year for the children of one small US mid-south neighborhood. The cool weather relieved the south from its hot humid summer. The leaves on the trees turned colors, rustled on the ground underfoot, and whirled in the wind. Adults carved faces on hollowed-out pumpkins as children marveled at all the fuss. They decorated their houses with Jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, witches, and scarecrows. Then they set out treats for potential trick-or-treaters. Young parents readied costumes for their children, and sometimes adults wore costumes themselves.
Halloween Began the Holiday Season
Halloween began the holiday season. If Halloween displays included harvest decorations, they remained for Thanksgiving, which came next. Christmas and New Years followed Thanksgiving. Halloween marked the beginning of a season of parties, feasting, thanksgiving, giving, parades and celebrations by families, friends, churches, and neighborhoods.
Trick-or-Treating in the 1960’s
In the small US mid-south neighborhood, Dad would take his children trick-or-treating on Halloween. They might visit the homes of the older women that attended their church. The women gladly greeted them at the front door with bowls full of candy. The children wore costumes, but the women knew who most of the children were anyway. Dad stayed close by so the children always felt protected. Some favorite candy treats were the homemade ones like caramel popcorn balls and caramel covered apples on a stick. Dad drove along the rural roads stopping only in front of the homes that had their front porch light lit.
There was not a specific persona associated with Halloween. However, in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, as seen on TV for the first time in 1966 (Charles M. Schulz, ABC), Linus did believe the Great Pumpkin would rise up out of the pumpkin patch. In the small US mid-south neighborhood, the children knew that most of Halloween was make-believe, because they dressed in costumes themselves. That was the best part of Halloween. Yet, they learned a lot about the symbols of Halloween from what they saw on television (TV) and what they were watching on TV in the 1960’s was unique indeed.
Casper (the Friendly Ghost) was a Saturday morning cartoon that featured a small ghost who did not like to scare people. Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo created Casper in the mid 1940’s. However, “Casper” was a favorite cartoon of the 1960’s.
The Addams Family was a 30-minute TV series shot in black-and-white (ABC, 1964 to 1966). The TV series featured a “haunted house” and characters with strange powers. Charles Addams created the characters as cartoons for The New Yorker and David Levy developed the TV series. Charles Addams was a renowned cartoonist who drew cartoons for The New Yorker from 1938 until his death in 1988. His specialty was combining horror with humor.
The Munsters was a TV series also shot in black-and-white (CBS, 1964 to 1966). A family of monsters interacted with real people in this TV series. Allan Burns and Chris Hayward created The Munsters. Norm Liebmann developed The Munsters. CBS canceled The Munsters after ratings dropped due to the premiere of ABC’s Batman, which was in full color.
The Addams Family and The Munsters were dark comedy or humorous horror TV series. From The Addams Family children learned to laugh at such symbols of Halloween as witches (Grandmama), giants (Lurch), and body parts (Thing). They watched The Munsters and learned not to fear such symbols of Halloween as monsters (the whole Munster family), vampires (Grandpa), werewolves (Eddie), fire-breathing dragons (Spot), and black cats (Kittycat). Both of the TV series featured unusual houses that most people would find appropriate to use as a Halloween haunted house.
Film Shown on TV
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film, written by Noel Langley, based on 1900 children’s book by L. Frank Baum. Throughout the sixties, “The Wizard of Oz” ran once a year on TV. Children’s eyes stayed glued to the TV as the part black-and-white, part in-color movie played. They looked forward to seeing it every year. “The Wizard of Oz” mesmerized children for decades. The bad witches, customary Halloween symbols, were scary, but there were also good witches. Dark forests and flying monkeys also frightened small children as they watched their TV screens, fascinated by the fantasy. However, the scarecrow, an American favorite Halloween symbol, was one of the most harmless characters the children saw on the TV. By the end of the movie, all the bad witches had died and some of the “costumed” characters looked like themselves again.
No Fear in a Small US Mid-South Neighborhood
The children of the small US mid-south neighborhood were not afraid of Halloween. They felt safe as Mom, Dad and their whole family watched over them. The children of this neighborhood giggled and smiled as they skipped to each door and squealed trick-or-treat. The happy faces, excited to see the costumed children, peeped out the door. Then soon, the occupant stepped out and added a few goodies to each bag.