Halloween was then just frivolous fun, a purely pagan ritual for kids and playful adults. Trick-or-treat wasn't an organized event, and everything was mostly homemade. No ceramic pumpkins: We carved real ones clumsily with whatever knife Mom would let us handle. You added some icing and raisin eyes to sloppily-made cookies for "ghosts." And costumes involved creative recycling rather than a shopping trip.
My mother kept a cardboard box the size of a washing machine in our storage cubbyhole for odd pieces of fabric, old clothing, junky jewelry and broken half masks. This is where costumes came from. That meant that the Knott kids usually showed up at someone's door as hoboes or gypsies, although I do remember Mom once making me into a pretty good mouse.
It was fun to participate in making these costumes, and we learned from Mom's ingenuity. I felt sorry for the kids forced to wear off-the-rack skeleton and Superman clothes. Anyone could buy a costume; creating one was better.
I understand that times have changed. You can no longer safely send your kids out unsupervised after dark, even in your own neighborhood, and today's haunted house events are definitely safer than our dares to sneak into a crumbling barn or condemned home. But I would hope for more resistance to all the commercialism and a return to homemade Halloween.
Ghost cookie, anyone?