Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween, Circa 1905

As you all know, Thailand is across the International Date Line from America, and thus it is already Halloween here in Chiang Mai.

Apropos of this, I thought that I would post a passage from John O'Hara's "Appointment in Samarra" (1935) that I came across while reading today, that shows what Hallowe'en was like in 1905, from the perspective of Julian English, a little boy growing up in suburban Pennsylvania ("Gibbsville," near Reading). This is the description of Halloween from 10-year-old Julian's point-of-view:
In the nights preceding Hallowe'en it was Walt who remembered the various Nights: one night was Gate Night, when you took people's gates off the fences; another night was Tick-Tack Night, when you held a button through which string had been run and wound up, against windowpanes, making a very effective sound until the string ran down; another night was Paint Night, when you painted sidewalks and people's houses. On Hallowe'en you dressed up as ghosts and cowboys and Indians and women and men, and rang doorbells, and said: "Anything for Hallowe'en?" If the people gave you pennies or cakes, all right. If they didn't you stuck a pin in the doorbell and threw the doormat out in the street and carried away the porch furniture and poured buckets of water on the porch so it would freeze in the night.

Ah, makes me pine for my days as a schoolboy, painting my neighbor's houses and seriously injuring them.

Oh, to again be young, and innocent, and a total asshole 10-year-old...

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