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With Halloween, gone are the days of spaghetti brains and marble eyeballs
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I see a lot of signs these days for fall festivals at schools. I guess we can’t say Halloween without offending someone.

Looking back on the old Halloween carnival I guess it was a little silly, but we liked it. We would have a classroom in the school as the spook house. I remember being blindfolded and led behind a curtain to put our hands into a pile of spaghetti and tell us that it was a brain.

There were some kind of marbles floating in water, which we thought were eyeballs. Somebody would bring bone from a butcher shop and tell us it was from a monster.

We also had lots of games of chance to win a small prize. Throw a ring over the neck of a bottle or through a hoop.

Somebody’s mama would put on a cape and some kind of turban looking thing and played a fortuneteller. She would look into an upside down fishbowl that she said was a crystal ball.

We had cakewalks. Some were only a few cents and the winner got a cupcake. There were more expensive ones where you could win a whole cake.

I remember having a hayride around the school parking lot. There was a time that we also bobbed for apples, but somebody realized the water in that washtub was a breeding ground for all sorts of germs.

There was lots of nutritious food, like hotdogs, corn dogs and hamburgers.

I guess in our politically correct world today, we would have to have some kind of counselor to make sure that touching some cold spaghetti did not emotionally scar the children.

There was always someone who made sure that every kid that showed up got to play a game and get something to eat. We had some kids in school that couldn’t afford a dime or a quarter for a game or a hot dog.

We live on a street that is quite popular with trick or treaters. Some come in elaborate costumes, while others may have splashed some paint or tape on a plastic trash bag.

We go through several pounds of candy. Some kids have an extra bag that is for a sibling. I often think that this might be a replacement for supper and it makes me sad.

I particularly like it when they don’t leave without a sincere “thank you.” Some of them really appreciate it.

I think the whole trick or treating thing is a good exercise in being good neighbors. It’s OK to be nice to one another.

My last Halloween carnival was a long time ago, but I remember those days with great fondness. I remember going to nearby neighbors for trick or treat and they would bring us in the house, so they could look at us. Some neighbors had “special” treats for the kids who live close by. Often, they would save a shot or two on the film from their summer vacation to snap a picture of us lined up in front of the fireplace.

It was a fun time for young and old alike.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on