Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Blues

It sure doesn't feel like Halloween this year. My husband and I came home from his nephew's engagement brunch in Ottawa, only to find the neighbourhood looks like it alwasy does. No Halloween decor anywhere. Not even a jack o lantern. It was the same thing in Ottawa; not even the shop windows had much to offer in the way of Halloween decor.

There were no trick or treaters or any evidence that there have been. Not even anyone in costume going off to Halloween parties in town.

I remembered early childhood  living  my parents' first apartment in a group of buildings known as the Benny Farm in N.D.G. (for those who don't know, NDG is in the West End of Montreal).  Lots of families with kids living in the neighbourhood. All kinds of activities. All before the days of internet, video games and yes, even before the VCR and most folks had black & white TVs. We had to rely on our imaginations to have fun.  My fondest memories growing up were in that neighbourhood.

My old neighbourhood had ceased to exist some years back. All the old buildings were abandoned and later demolished for new buildings to be built. I'm happy that these new buildings are for lower income families; lord knows there's a shortage of subsidized housing here, but it's sad to know that reminders of the good times are no longer evident.

One such fond memory was Halloween in the area. Sometimes a haunted house would be set up in the basement of one of the buildings. We went trick or treating in large groups. We knew almost everyone who's bell we rang. We would carry pillow cases to collect the treats and little orange UNICEF boxes to collect change issued by our schools. Yes, Halloween in the Benny Farm provided more ambiance than Christmas or summer vacation in my opinion.

As years passed, no matter where I lived, I noticed fewer and fewer kids out trick or treating. It had become a safety issue. As such, the  Old Montreal Forum had set up a large Halloween party for the kids. The program was successful. They came in costume and would trick or treat around the place and there were other activities to keep them safe, but that too became defunct in recent years.

Another surprising thing is UNICEF had scrapped its'  Halloween box campaign. Not sure if this is the case elsewhere, but it no longer exists here, in Montreal. Maybe they too noticed that Halloween is no longer in vogue.

I guess it's hard to preserve fond memories of youth and evidence of it ever happened have all but disappeared, much like the Benny Farm and Halloween.

I did find an old Adams Family cartoon to at least keep some semblance of Halloween here.

Happy Halloween All!!

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