Saturday, October 31, 2015


My strongest memory of trick-or-treating during my Seward years was that I always wore paper-bag masks. Since my family had seven children, we did not have money to buy masks. Besides, my Dad liked to teach crafts -- especially paper crafts -- to us kids. After all, my Dad was an origami expert.

The image below -- from a 1957 Lulu comic book -- shows the concept. Get a grocery-shop paper bag, cut holes in the front for the eyes and mouth, and put curled paper on top for the hair. You can see the image in larger size at the Happy Holidays website.

Let's Make a Halloween Mask,
from the Happy Holidays website.
The image below is from some 1950s publication. You can see the image in larger size at the Mid Century Living website (double-click on the image there).

Easy Breezy Halloween Masks
from the Mid Century Living website.
These instructions advise people to put a couple holes in the bag's top for ventilation. I don't remember that we ever did that, and I do remember that wearing the paper-bag masks was a sweaty and smelly experience.

We would use scissors to curl paper strips for the hair, which would be glued onto the paper bag's top. The Wiki How to Do Anything website includes a seven-step instruction, which concludes with this image.

How to Curl Ribbon
from the Wiki How to Do Anything website.
I don't have any photographs of our family's paper-bag masks, but below are some images of other families' masks during those years.

The kids in the below photograph did not curl their paper-strip hair enough.

The kid on the left in the below photo is wearing a paper-bag mask. Both kids have plastic-pumpkin containers for their candy. We Sylwester kids always used paper bags for the candy.

The second kid in the below photograph is wearing a paper-bag mask, while all the rest of the kids are wearing plastic masks. Poor kid.

None of the kids in the below photograph are wearing paper-bag masks. The kids on the left and front are wearing plastic masks that were common then.

Below is the same photograph in a larger size, to show the kind of plastic that was used to make those masks.

None of the kids in the below photograph are wearing paper-bag masks, but the big straw hat strikes a memory cord for me. It seems to me that many families had such a big straw hats, which were used on Halloween.
When we went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood around the Concordia campus, we got lots of candy. A few homes gave out apples. I would keep trick-or-treating until after 10 p.m. I was able to mostly-fill a grocery bag.

The days following Halloween were a continual pig-out on all the candy.

We St. John's pupils were encouraged to collect money for UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund) when we went trick-or-treating. Our teachers gave us UNICEF boxes that looked like the one, marked 1964, in the below image. I remember the UNICEF boxes looking like milk cartons.

A UNICEF box from 1964.
The box in the below image looks familiar, but I don't know the year. I remember that our UNICEF boxes always had a peaked top and a slot.


So, we kids would go to a home, say "trick or treat" and get some candy, and then we would say "UNICEF", and we would get a coin or two. After Halloween, we would give the coin-filled UNICEF carton back to St. John school, which (I assume) sent all the money to UNICEF.

One important decision that each kid had to make was the age when he felt too old to continue trick-or-treating.  I remember vaguely that most kids stopped in about seventh grade, but I think I continued about a year longer than most kids -- maybe until I was in eighth grade.