In the 1940’s October skies often smelled of newly-raked leaves burning by curbsides. My family lived in a big apartment building in suburban
Every October, our grade school scout troop journeyed to a local forest preserve, hidden away from city sights and sounds. It seemed like someone gathered a piece of forest, rolled it up, and brought it to the city In this setting, we enjoyed the same things as country kids.
We hiked through the woods, identified trees and plants, and heeded warnings to watch out for poison ivy. We gathered around a crackling fire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on the end of a stick. Every Girl Scout learned how to prepare S’Mores with graham crackers, chocolate bars, and fire-blackened, gooey marshmallows. Squash the chocolate and marshmallow between two graham crackers, and you have a real treat. We made full meals on grills, too. My favorite main dish was Bags Of Gold--a big pot of canned tomato soup, and dumplings made with a
October also meant Halloween parties where bobbing for apples proved the most popular activity. I really hated that game. My long hair, curly and auburn red, always managed to get wet before I captured an apple between my teeth from the tub of water. I’m sure there were other games played, but those miserable little apples floating merrily around the tub have stayed in my mind as one of the memories better pushed into the deep recesses of my brain.
School art classes concentrated on leaves and pumpkins, witches and black cats. Our teacher read scary stories, and we planned Halloween parties. On Halloween Day, the entire school lined up wearing costumes, most of them created from things we had at home. Only a few bought a costume. Mothers watched as we marched around the outside of the school. Back in our classrooms, we played games, including that awful bobbing for apples, and then had frosted sugar cookie pumpkins, apple cider and a nut cup filled with candy corn and peanuts.
As soon as darkness descended Halloween night, we went in groups to Trick or Treat, younger siblings tagging along. We visited all fifty-two units in our building, climbing three flights of stairs in each vestibule. Great exercise, but we only looked at it as a means to get candy. Mother put our haul in a big bowl and allowed us only a piece or two each day.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Happy First Day of October. I'm leaving in minutes to attend the Kansas Authors State Convention. I'll have a report on the meeting on Monday. But since today is the first day of a new month, I'm posting a memoir piece I once wrote about October during my growing-up years in Chicago.