Agriculture & Livestock: Halloween memories on Morapos Creek

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Diane Prather

Each year when Halloween rolls around, I think about those years when my siblings and I were growing up at the family ranch on Morapos Creek.

Surprisingly, I remember the weather on Halloween night to be crisp and clear, though it undoubtedly had snowed earlier in the month. I remember the crunch of fallen leaves as we were out and about.

Whatever the weather was like, we looked forward to the holiday. We girls can’t remember wearing Halloween costumes to school.

However, we probably had a party. Sometimes the party was at night, and as was common with country schools in those days, the entire community was invited.

My sister, Darlene Blackford, remembers making cut-out bats, witches, and pumpkins to hang on the schoolhouse windows.

Darlene also remembers that one year a teacher asked the students to go outdoors and gather up fallen leaves. These were placed in the corners of the room, to serve as decorations. So, imagine the new teacher’s surprise the next year when the kids gathered up leaves during recess and began piling them in the classroom’s corners.

According to Darlene’s recollections, both adults and kids played games at the Halloween school party. They danced, too.

During “Snap the Broom,” somebody danced with the broom, and when he dropped it, everyone changed partners. Another person danced with the broom. The night ended with refreshments, and sandwiches and cake that had been brought to the party by the guests.

Since we lived at an elevation where the growing season was short, we likely didn’t have a Halloween pumpkin, or if we did it was rare, anyway.

If we did, the Jack-O-Lantern was probably turned into pumpkin for pie the very next day. Nothing went to waste on the ranch.

We girls didn’t have store bought Halloween costumes, either.

However, our brother Duane, who is younger than us, remembers having a costume complete with mask that he took to school with him to wear during a party. Duane attended the Hamilton School.

One year, Mom made a cat costume for one of my sisters. Nobody can remember why she made it or for whom. It was sewn from a pair of long underwear and decorated with black spots. The costume had a long, stuffed tail, too, and a cat mask. Besides being worn for some intended occasion, the cat costume went trick-or-treating, too.

Trick-or-treat night on Morapos Creek was the night before Halloween. Apparently the custom got started because people who didn’t give out treats would be tricked the next night, not that we ever tricked anyone. Our parents wouldn’t have allowed it.

Out in the country, neighbors were often miles apart so kids couldn’t just walk from house to house. Dad always drove us around. So, we kids hunted through closets and boxes of old clothes to fix up costumes for trick-or-treat night.

Popular were ghost costumes since they required only sheets with eye holes cut out and hobo or pirate costumes. If we did have masks, our parents warned us to take them off when going to homes of elderly neighbors, so as to not scare them unnecessarily.

The first stop on our trick-or-treat night was Grandpa and Grandma Osborn’s ranch on Deer Creek (over the hill from where we lived). That was because our grandparents went to bed early.

We knocked on the door and shouted, “Trick or treat!”

Grandma always responded with, “My goodness! Who do we have here?”

And then she’d make over our costumes and tell us to sit down. She wanted to visit, and we were polite but anxious to get on with our trick-or-treating.

Grandma didn’t drive so she relied on one of our uncles to bring supplies from Hamilton or Craig. She usually had something cooked up for us, but sister Charlotte Allum remembers one Halloween — her favorite one ever — when nobody had been to the store. All Grandma had was a fresh apple pie.

Grandma cut each one of us a piece of pie that she said we could eat there or take with us. Charlotte chose to take her pie home. She said that she waited until she was ready to go to bed before eating that piece of apple pie.

Our treats from trick-or-treat night included fresh-baked cookies, popcorn balls, candied apples, some candies, and coins such as pennies and nickels.

There are plenty of Halloween memories from the growing-up years on Morapos Creek.

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