ALL HALLOWS EVE IN THE BRONX
An excerpt from my memoir, Boy in a Brick Village
© 2010 by David Wainland
...Halloween back in the nineteen-fifties was one of my favorite holidays and did not remotely resemble the ersatz spectacle we have today. We Bronx cliff dwellers had our own ways of celebrating. Yes, we carved pumpkins, but if you had a costume, it was homemade. As children, we wandered the buildings trick or treating by ourselves and in the case of younger children, our parents trusted them to us with a simple admonition, as we left, “Don’t let your brother eat too much candy.”
Mostly the boys would dress in their worst clothes, mark our own faces with chalk and spend the daylight hours searching for victims, the young ladies of our neighborhood, to attack. Our weapon of choice was one of our mother’s nylon stockings containing about a pound of powdered plaster of Paris or ground colored chalk.
When we found one of our special victims, we would twirl the stocking bolo fashion over our heads and attempt to smite our target. The result was a large brightly covered mark on their clothing. Finally, ammunition spent, we would attack each other in a process called, “Chalking them up,” accomplished by ganging up on one another and using colored chalks, stripe and otherwise mark the victim.
Eventually as evening drew near, we would go door-to-door, threatening Trick or Treat and finally return to home, exhausted by combat and stomachs aching from excessive amounts penny candy...