My introduction to the concept of trick-or-treating was so bland and uneventful that it has forever soiled my view of the holiday.
Never wanting to venture too far from home, the first door we knocked on belonged to Miss Nellie Johnson, an elderly spinster who lived across the street of my birth apartment on Chicago's far north side.
Playing dress up has never been my thing. For me, Cosplay is defined as watching Ghost Dad, but mom sprung for a deluxe Ben Cooper Bugs Bunny outfit and I didn't have the heart not to model it for her.
What we all wouldn't give for photographic evidence of 4-year-old Scooter wearing a flame retardant facial mask, bunny ears made out of clothes hangers (dad's addition to the ensemble), and a ball of cotton stuck to my ass.
This was long before confectionery came in the bite-size, individual wrapped packaging we know today. Hell, I started trick-or-treating long before Halloween apples came complete with razor blades and/or psilocybin. One was fortunate to find a candy bar beneath the loose candy corn at the bottom of their treat sack.
"The Moving Picture World," October, 1910: Early evidence of an Allhallows Eve-related production. An advertisement for the presumably long lost 'trick-film', "The Fairies' Hallowe'en."
Nelly was a rich, eccentric dame, prone to parading up and down Thorndale Avenue in the middle of summer wearing a full-length mink coat. There was more lipstick on the end of her cigarette than came in a tube. She owned a giant gray Cadillac that could accommodate 20 in the backseat alone. It seldom left its spot in front of her apartment. That's how we knew she was home that Halloween night.
"TRICK-OR-TREAT" I screamed when Nel opened her door. It was a line that, much to my parent's disdain, had been well rehearsed. Two ceramic bowls sat atop a table in her foyer. Too small to see their content, it wasn't until Nellie brought them closer that I discovered my "treats."
Bowl #1 contained popcorn. Not popcorn balls or bags of popcorn, just popcorn. I was instructed to toss two handfuls in my bag. Bowl #2 was filled with pennies, one handful of which I was allowed to throw in the bag to give the popcorn a copper flavor.
For those who have a hallowed place in their hearts for All Hallows' Eve, here's a frightful gathering of ephemera that will hopefully stir a few terrifying memories and bring a smile to your face.
Spend a pre-code "Teeny Hallowe'eny" with scantily-clad starlet Nancy Carroll as she tries to scare up an audience for her co-starring role opposite Cary Grant in "Hot Saturday." "Movie Classics," October, 1932.
What more horrifying way to spend the holiday than with Canada's premier 1930's tourist attraction (and future movie stars), the abused, exploited, and dextrose-fueled Dionne Quintuplets?
It's only a paper moon winking at the bewitching June Knight.
Do I detect the hand of Jacques Kapralik in this ad for "Bewitched" precursor,
"I Married a Witch"? "The Film Daily," 1942.
Helen Blazes (Sylvia Lewis) welcomes Shemp Howard to hell in the Jules White shocker, "Bedlam in Paradise."
The Paramount art department worked overtime on this adorable burlap pumpkin for Clara Bow to get cozy with.
Why a Jack-O-Lantern? Halloween, Marx Bros. style, 1937.
I don't know about you, but I like saying "Norma Shearer's pumpkin muff."
Dean & Jerry are "Scared Stiff!"
"Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein," "The Film Bulletin," 8-16-48.
The punchline to Tod Browning's "Mark of the Vampire" is one of the biggest cheats in Hollywood history. Carroll Borland's delivery of her one and only line will leave you screaming with laughter. "The Film Daily," May, 1935.
"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright." Beware the moors and a remake that features Benicio del Toro. "The Film Daily," 10-12-41.
One of the few legitimately funny Bob Hope vehicles, "The Ghost Breakers." "Photoplay," August, 1940.
Believe it or not, James Whales' haunted house spook-tacular still packs a couple of jolts. "The New Movie Magazine," August, 1932.
My favorite scary-sounding title. Too bad the movie doesn't live up to its name.
Color by DeLuxe: bewitched, bleary, and beet red. The horror...
What's more terrifying than cleaning up after a kid whose been loaded with cream cheese and prunes? Hiring Kate Smith as a "Food Counselor."
Goes down easy with a plate of Lily's filet of dragon.
A rare candid shot of frightening rivals, the Count and Frankie, in a relaxed mood. "Photoplay," May, 1932.
Remember, kids: don't eat any apples you can shave with!