Bob Mitchell: Halloween goblins still prowling

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Here we are having arrived at the end of the 10th month of the year, and it’s tonight the Goblins, Haints and Taints will be around in the observance of Halloween.

Actually, it won’t be anything like it once was in these parts when in years past even the adults got into the act with some pretty extensive efforts to become part of the costume event with many of them very successful in disguising their true identity.

Those were the days Cassville Rotary Club annually sponsored their street event — Halloween evening on the west side of the public square. Modest cash prizes were made available in costume judging for elementary school ages, high school and adults. The lower two age groups got jingling money for placing in an assortment of games.

To complete the evening, snacks of store-bought cookies and Vollenweider Orchard apples were available for everyone. Frequently the treats were washed down with swallows of apple cider.

Most of those who might have been around at this time will never forget the pleased look of Fred Vollenweider as he took part in this phase of the program by participating in handing out the Red Delicious variety of apple that was grown in the orchards near Exeter.

Costume judging

First order of business included arranging those in costume in a circle to march around the area to be viewed by both spectators and judges who usually had a difficult time ranking the contestants — from the youngest to the oldest. Today’s audience would not believe the efforts made by each contestant. One requirement of the entries who made the prize list was to unmask and make their true identity known to the audience. This phase usually resulted in several gasps when folks found out who was under those disguises.

In those days, there weren’t costumes available on store shelves as they are today. Masks were plentiful, but the remainder of their efforts was entirely up to each individual. Attics, closets and basements had to be the source of disguises, as many dipped deep into the past.

Surprising entries

One of the regular adult participants was Ernest German, one-time furniture and appliance dealer in Cassville. Even though he was a constant winner, seldom was his true identity known until the unmasking requirement was met.

Another constant winner was a younger person, large in stature, that worked at the County Farm, and even though his build should have given him away, he had a way with his dress and walk in disguising who he really was and frequently was reluctant to unmask before receiving his reward.

Two of my aunts, Mary Ray and Missie Pearl, were usually in the adult competition and frequently winners. Completely opposites in stature, they stayed separated during the proceedings until the end.

Competition, especially in the older groups, was especially high with judges’ decisions coming only after the circles of marches made several rounds.

Some dangerous games

There was a slight risk of skinned elbows or knees during some of the games as a result of street paving. Activities such as sack races and three-legged dashes could have resulted in a scratch or two if races got excessively active.

Ensuring some slight scrapes were handled properly, Rotary usually had someone with first aid knowledge with a few supplies in hand to take care of these situations.

On the other hand, apple dunking out of a tub didn’t pose much of a problem, as each participant knew when to come up for air.

The youngsters were quite proud of themselves when their names were announced as winners. A public address system was provided by Max Fields, for both crowd control and other announcements.

DST ends Sunday

This Sunday, Nov. 4 marks the end of Daylight Saving Time, which means the evening before it will be necessary to “fall back” one hour as we return to Central Standard Time.

A week later, on Sunday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, which will be the subject for a future column.

What the Almanac says

With the arrival of the 11th month of the year, the Almanac, which many rely upon for weather, doesn’t carry a lot of good notes for this area. Colder weather is in the predication, which might be welcome for those who have had their fill of late season heat experienced recently.

.Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.