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Of Caramels and Cream Soda: Late 1970s Halloweens

by Chloe Koffas, Regular Contributor

The smell of warm, hollow pumpkin – the winking candle lighting up the jack-o-lantern’s toothy smile from the inside, the flame bending over from the chilly fall breeze to singe the stringy, squashy edges just a little. Salted pumpkin seeds slow-roasting on a cookie sheet in the harvest gold General Electric oven.

The Ben Cooper and Collegeville costumes. That plastic window on the front of the box giving me a view of my new Casper costume that was waiting to be paraded all over my street. The smell of the vinyl as I would first pull the costume out of the box. And Magic Glo’ – oh the soft, mesmerizing green glow – there is no other green like it – like key lime pie, or the green marshmallows of Lucky Charms, or the green trail of a passing comet, or the green pineapple-marshmallow-pistachio pudding dessert that often shows up at church potlucks, but even more wonderful.

The big ‘70’s-era woven wood bowl would sit on a TV tray, cheerily waiting by the door, full of cellophane-wrapped peppermints. As a toddler, I thought they were little holiday gifts wrapped with clear wrapping paper and that the kids on the street had been so good they were getting their Christmas gifts two months early.

The smell that would come from my candy bucket would come wafting up like the smell from an oven at an autumn forest bakery in a storybook. All the candy combined together to create one amazing smell – as if someone baked a cinnamon coffee cake and added maple syrup, peanut butter and caramel, and then put a cream soda-chocolate drizzle icing over the top and served it with a Frostie root beer.

Each doorbell ring had me bolting for the door – I didn’t want to miss a moment of seeing the neighborhood kids in their homemade costumes or plastic masks. Various previous presidents would grace our porch, like JFK. Various cartoon dogs would show up like Underdog or Hulkleberry Hound.

Caroline Kennedy dons a JFK mask as she strikes a Halloween pose with her father, the late President John F. Kennedy.

Caroline Kennedy dons a JFK mask as she strikes a Halloween pose with her father, the late President John F. Kennedy.

And in the gutters were the crunchiest of red and yellow leaves dropped as little treasures from the trees that had shadowed us in summer sandboxes. And the enchanting air was more crisp and electric with each hour while our breath created condensation on the inside of our masks. And as we ran from one suburban lawn to another, the stars would smile satisfied at us, and tell us that while the coldest of winter was coming, it was okay to be content for a night and sleep with bellies full of chocolate.

Here’s to Frostie root beers, and to all the Underdogs, and to pumpkin-maple memories of the earliest years of Generation X.

Happy Halloween, Xers.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Chloe

    Thank you for the sweet words, Shavon and Jen. I am fortunate to have both of you as friends, and I am fortunate to share a generation (and memories) with so many wonderful people.

  2. Shavon Weisner

    You are a gifted writer my friend! This brought back such great memories for me.

    • Jennifer

      She does write so beautifully!!


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