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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween in Old Hoboken

October 29, 2008
The above vignette adorns the restaurant-bar Tenth and Willow, replacing the outdoor tables framed in vines and blossoms of the summer. Fall is here.

A few weeks ago I ran a few pictures of some of the home decorations going up on upper Garden Street, and Jim B., a former citizen of Hoboken, wrote:

"Liked your pictures on Garden Street. Looked very familiar. At this time of year [in the old days in Hoboken] you would see lots of empty boxes of grapes, since a lot of the people made their own wine. But now they decorate with mums and suburban looking things.

"Here is something about older Hoboken trick or treating. First, there is a mischief night before, where you would have socks filled with flour and leave markings on lots of the buildings. Sometimes eggs as well.

"But for Trick or Treat, you had to go floor to floor, then building to building, lots of stair climbing, and going from hot hallways to cold outdoors. You rarely went outside your own few blocks unless you went with classmates after school. My brother and I would usually go to the houses on 12th and Hudson and on Washington. On the Washington Street side, you didn't even have to leave the buildings since they were all connected through the basements. You could go to every building on Washington Street without going outside. There was a connection in the basements that made it simple. There was always a parade around Brandt school, sometimes outside the school, sometimes on the roof. The roof was where we had our Phys Ed classes.

"Most people were generous, and if they were not, the socks with flour returned oftentimes. The police usually had the streets cleared by about 9:30 or so."

I'll bet my readers can come up with a lot more memories of their Halloween activities. Let me hear them.

6 comments:

downtown chick said...

Ah, Jim.....to be as young as you are!!! In the 40's there WAS mischief night but no trick or treating on Halloween. That was reserved for Thanksgiving. This is why I am so in love with the old Hoboken. My husband tells me Jersey City did Thanksgiving as well.
On Thanksgiving day, you rang the bells (remember, tenements NOT brownstones). The adults would come to the window, and we would yell "anyting fa Tanksgivin?" and they threw money at us!!! Yay for Thanksgiving! My husband says one family in J.C. used to give out turkey sandwiches. I don't remember getting candy. When we moved to the burbs it was a surprise that kids dressed up for Halloween in actual costumes. Our theme was ragamuffin. Very little thought went into this. Either you burned a cork & went as a bum, or you wore your mom's coat & went as a grown up lady. Lovely Autumn decorations??? hehehehe, nah...not on 1st & Madison.
The difference between uptown and downtown is staggering.

HoneyBob137 said...

Uptown Hoboken has many wonderfully decorated stoops, some are very spooky!

Is there Trick or Treating in Hoboken? I bought tons of candy to give out, but can't seem to find any information on Trick or Treating in Hoboken. I hope I'm not stuck with all this candy!

Mary Lois said...

It's my first Halloween here, but I think you'll have to eat a lot of candy yourself...in most places, Halloween is now just for toddlers shepherded by their parents. Kids don't roam alone.

In Hoboken, there's a big "ragamuffin" parade, but they're not the ragamuffins of the old days. There may be a tramp or two among a lot of kids in Barney costumes and Britney wannabes.

slezak said...

No dressing up for Halloween... THANKSGIVING was the day you did that ...fill up a sock with flour...LOOK OUT HOBOKEN HERE WE COME. I guess thats where they got the saying getting whacked. After Christmas when every one dumped their trees, we would get them put them in a big pile on the street corner and light them up--RUN FOR COVER HERE COMES THE COPS!

Anonymous said...

I've got a Halloween story that resulted in a nickname so bad that
it is censorable. Maye I'll try to relate it on Halloween for tricks..HA!

barbary kid / charles said...

I lived in Hoboken from 1936 to 1959 and the day we went begging was always Halloween Day. Different people remember things differently. I remember the night before Holloween (mischief night). Two of our most favorite things to do was to go to 3rd.and Hudson on the east side of the street was a whole block of houses. They were all the same and had iron fences and gates on each of them. Us kids would get togather and go there when it got dark, take a gate from one fencs and put it on another fence. We mixed all the gates up on the whole block. The gates all looked alike but was slightly differant in size and hinges and the gate handles were placed slightly differant locations. We would mix them up and they wouldn't close properly or lock. The owners had to go looking for there own gate. All the fences were painted black or green. I guess they all shared there paint. The other most favorite thing to do was in the apartment houses. At night we would go into the hallways get on someone shoulders and loosen the bulb so it went out, then deposit a load of dog poop on the floor at the apartment entrance door. But we only did that to the people we didn't like. Yah, we did the poop in the bag thing too but people got wise to that fast. Now on mischief night I sit in front of my house with a police uniform on cleaning the gun and the kids stay away. I don't want the little !@#$%&*(brat's) messing my place up.