My family lived in Manitowoc Wisconsin for many years, and found it was a wonderfully child friendly town.
There were children’s classes put on by the town all summer, offered at incredibly low fees. The thought was the local college students and teenagers that helped teach the classes could have jobs, and the local kids all had art lessons, gym classes and learned to swim. It was a form of socialism that was tolerated as the entire town believed in their children. They didn’t like paying taxes anymore than the rest of us, but they did want the children of the town to have the best. It helped that there were many multi generational families. Grandparents and great grandparents supported paying for the “new generation”.
I particularly enjoyed the Halloween plan for the town. Halloween was always the Sunday before Halloween proper, and was in the daytime. It was really a delight on a brisk Sunday afternoon to walk around with the kids. No worries about cars hitting kids in the dark, no costumes set on fire by lit pumpkins, and it was great for taking photographs. It did upset the local religious leaders, who felt a pagan holiday celebrated on a Sunday was a terrible thing.
While my own Halloween childhood memories of running house to house in the dark were exciting, as a parent it was much more fun to have daylight trick or treating. The hours were between 2pm and 4pm, and were well advertised. There were always a few newbies to town who still showed up on Halloween night, and we always saved a bit of candy for them.
Manitowoc was great fun also as our neighbors children were terrific to trick or treat with. Hayley was the well behaved and well loved only child. Evelyn and Hayley liked to follow rules. Rosie however was the fire cracker that opened all our eyes to the fun part of breaking what might seem to the rest of us to be rules, but really weren’t. Rosie always made up her own costume. My favorite was when she was a fork. Her mother, a very wise woman that let Rosie be Rosie, made her a beautiful realistic fork costume.
As we went door to door, people would say “Oh a princess, a mermaid, and you are….?” Rosie would look at them and say ‘”A fork, I’m a fork? Don’t you have forks?” She was puzzled that our obviously clueless neighborhood could not figure out she was a fork. It did not distress her in the least to be different, she was a strong young woman at a time and place where fitting in was expected. At that time Manitowoc was just a small town in the Mid West where there were few minorities and I was once assured there were “No gay people, except the gym teacher, but we all like her. She’s OK”,
Rosie was even skipped a grade at school because she was so smart, and had little patience for a class that wanted her to just sit still while having nothing to teach her. I remember playing Candy Land with her. I carefully put out the board and explained the simple rules to both Evelyn and Rosie. The game was too simple for those intelligent young girls, but Evelyn was willing to play along. Rosie said “So the point is to get from HERE to HERE?” I nodded yes. Rosie then took her game piece scooted it along the board to the end and was “So what other games do you have?” I had to laugh and picked out a much more challenging game.
The girls all grew up to be successful and happy, while retaining their own unique personalities, I still miss waiting to find out just what costume Rita had devised for herself each year. I also admired all the parents in the neighborhood, because while Rosie was perhaps “different” the other children did not make fun of her and instead admired her daring and intelligence. Parents that teach respect for differences to their children are good parents. She may have been a fork for Halloween, but she was our neighborhood fork!
This Halloween the children will be coming at night, since we now live in New Hampshire the “Live Free or Die” state and you would never, ever consider imposing trick or treating hours on anyone. The New Hampshire native will trick or treat any time they darn well please!
Also I hope to be on the look out for that one child, the one dressed as a fork or in some costume where I will have to say “Oh please tell me about your costume!” Fitting in is over rated, it takes some of us a long time to learn that, but others get it very early in life!
- Tips for Safe & Happy Trick-or-Treating (itstidytime.wordpress.com)
- Halloween Rules, Reminders, and Regrets for Adults (mediumlarge.wordpress.com)
- Keep Halloween Safe: Driving Tips For Parents (thecarconnection.com)