What hap­pened to Hal­loween?

The Compass - - OPINION -

My dad used to tell me about his child­hood in On­tario, when fam­i­lies and friends got to­gether to lis­ten to the ra­dio.

Late in the night, after the sun had set, an old ra­dio pro­gram used to be the method of en­ter­tain­ment. Its in­ten­tion was to scare those who lis­tened.

The rules were sim­ple; open the base­ment door and sit with your back to it. Then, gather around the ra­dio and lis­ten. And no mat­ter what they heard, they could not turn around.

Ghost tales and sound ef­fects would be heard over the speaker, in­clud­ing foot­steps that some kids swore were com­ing from the base­ment stairs be­hind them.

My dad said it was a fear like no other. It brought the idea of ghosts and ghouls to life. It re­minded chil­dren there were scary things in the dark. And some­times even frightened kids to not go into the dark, damp base­ment alone.

Some peo­ple don’t like the idea of scar­ing chil­dren, es­pe­cially with ghost sto­ries. But those from my dad’s gen­er­a­tion, as well as many from out­port New­found­land prior to the 1970s, told th­ese tales, and many be­lieved them.

But, after the times of tele­vi­sions, movies and com­put­ers, many of us have lost that sense of fear.

I am not ashamed to ad­mit I still don’t like watch­ing hor­ror movies by my­self. Not many do. But get­ting that fright is a feel­ing like no other. Adren­a­line rush­ing through your body, goose bumps on your neck and feel­ing like there’s some­one watch­ing you. It’s about al­low­ing your­self to get pulled in to ex­pe­ri­ence the fear, the fright and the un­pre­dictable hap­pen­ings.

Hal­loween is ap­proach­ing, but there are very few haunted houses, scary yard dis­plays or lo­cal ac­tiv­i­ties that make the night one of may­hem. Things have changed.

For the kids, it’s about candy and dress­ing as their favourite Dis­ney character (I bet there will be a lot of El­sas and An­nas this year).

For teenagers, it’s about eat­ing the left over junk food, go­ing to a school dance or just not giv­ing any in­ter­est to Hal­loween at all.

Some adults worry if they’ll have enough candy. Oth­ers, wor­ried they’ll have way to much. We had six kids stop at our house last year, on a main road in Car­bon­ear. Six. And we’ve al­ways went all out for Hal­loween.

But those of us who still have a fire in our bel­lies for the wicked, the fright­ful and the true mean­ing of Hal­loween, still hope for some­one to say, “Did you hear, so-and-so is do­ing a haunted house this year.”

Not only does it al­low us to get back into the spirit of the night, it also helps con­tinue our tra­di­tions with fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tions.

I will al­ways think back to when I went through a haunted house many years ago. The sounds of chain­saws, the creak­ing of floor­boards and shriek­ing of those who were ahead of me was part of the ex­cite­ment.

Maybe some day, we’ll see it hap­pen again. Un­til then, I’ll be sure to have plenty of treats on hand in case we get more trick-or-treaters this year.

— Melissa Jenk­ins is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass news­pa­per in Car­bon­ear. She can be reached at melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

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