Happy Haunting!

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Trick-or-treating outside 120 East 92nd Street, built in 1871, one of the last wood-frame houses to be built in Manhattan. Photo: JH.

Monday, November 1, 2021. A mild, cloudy day in the low 60s, yesterday in New York, and Halloween.

My memories of the heavenly day (when I was a kid) was nighttime when we put on our ghost and clown suits, homemade, and with a large bag went throughout the neighborhood in small groups knocking on doors, ringing doorbells and upon response shouting “trick-er-treat”! Which meant only one thing: whaddaya got for me?

It started right after dark — after supper — 6:30/quarter to 7, and was finished an hour/hour and a half later. Eight/nine/and ten year olds were pretty much the average age so you were back home about eight/eight-thirty.

There were no adults escorting since everyone knew the neighborhoods and the neighbors (and the world was a much safer place), especially where the real treats were and weren’t. And whose doorbells not to ring — such as Mrs. Couch who was the crabbiest lady on the block. Afterwards, sometimes we’d go to the house of one of the gang and have more treats as well as ducking/dipping for apples out of a big metal water filled tub (no hands allowed) which got you a prize (something chocolate like a Hershey bar) if you succeeded.

It was so long ago in this now long life that in memory it seems quick and uneventful. Although at the time it was The Best and always a Treat. Then when the boy grew up and moved to the Big City to follow his dreams, if anything, it meant some kind of costume party and who-needs-candy when you can have cocktails. Costumes were optional.

What was noticeable in the big town was apartment building trick-or-treating, often accompanied by a parent, and the “kids” were often a lot younger than 7 or 8. And often there would be a note posted in the elevator as to which apartments would respond to the bell. It never struck me as much of an adventure as it was when I was a kid.

What was different in the city versus small town was the exterior decorations, and the costume parades (see Friday’s NYSD). The exterior decors are often elaborate and highly creative. And fun. And or weird and wild. And they begin to go up as early as a week or two before. This year JH made a tour on the Upper East and West Sides with his camera. He also discovered the “trick or treating” began in the late afternoon when it was still light out. There was one block in the 90s, off Park Avenue which was highly populated by the highly costumed, raring to go with large bags to fill with their “treats.”

To everyone’s delight, the Carnegie Hill Neighbors held its annual Spooktacular Block Party on 92nd Street between Madison and Park.
The party spilled over to Lexington Avenue where a handful of residents were handing out treats to all!

One thing that struck me about the exteriors is the preponderance of Spider Webs. Not that they were new or original, but it seems like this year there were more of them, or as JH put it, “the poor spiders get a bad rap.” And then of course there are the large populations of skeletons of all sizes. And the witches, mean and scary and always with those pointy black hats. I used to think this was all done to amuse the children although I’ve discovered that children come in all ages when it comes to Halloween, and often drives the elaborate decors set out by the truly artistic returning to the child in themselves. And good for a smile or even a laugh.

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