SURRATT: Remembering trick-or-treats past

Published 8:00 am Friday, October 28, 2022

Halloween is Monday.

That’s a reminder of a special day and an indication of how fast time has flown; it seems like just yesterday we were popping fireworks for the Fourth of July. Next thing you know, we’ll be carving turkeys and piling up in sweats on the couch to watch football, then we’ll be putting up decorations for Christmas and homes will be full of the smell of baked goods.

But back to Halloween.

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It goes without saying that the Halloween people my age knew has undergone a transition over the years. The days when you went out with friends to hit the streets and warn people you were coming with a loud announcement of “trick-or-treat” are long gone, and it’s a shame. Modern society has trashed what was a fun holiday.

I grew up in a time when Baton Rouge was more like a small town, where everybody knew everybody and you could walk the streets of the neighborhood at night without fear. There were times in my teens when we’d think nothing of walking several blocks to the local 7-11 at night to get a soft drink or an ice cream bar; I wouldn’t dare do that now.

Back in the days when there were only three television networks, Cokes cost a dime, pay telephones were just about on every corner and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was an annual rite, Halloween was a fun time. Schools held parties and festivals and trick-or-treating was safe; I’d get with a group of friends to hit several neighborhoods for goodies. A parent would drive us, and we’d start in one cohort’s neighborhood and then move on to another until all areas were hit and our bags were bulging with loot.

Not long after, I was forced by age from going out for trick-or-treating as a participant and the next few years were spent escorting my brother and sister on their rounds.

In some ways, it saddens me to see the tradition of trick-or-treating the way I knew it end but I can understand why. The world has changed, and with it many people, and not for the good. It’s a shame such things can affect a childhood experience.

Our daughter only got to go trick-or-treating a few times, going only to a few homes in our neighborhood and in my mother’s neighborhood. Her last Halloween excursion was in Decatur, Ala., where we lived at the time. The city’s shopping mall held an event where the mall’s merchants gave out goodies to provide a safe Halloween.

And that seems to be the custom now — “trunk-or-treat” programs and malls providing a safe experience — and it’s a good idea. But it will never replace my memories from a different — and safer — time.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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