Halloween Down Neck

by Barbara Horan Vitale


There was nothing quite like Halloween Down Neck . The Celts "invented" Halloween so with all the Irish around it was a big deal around the Pru as well as in school at St. Al's. On Halloween, we used to dress up like Saints for school and in the afternoon we used parade around the school yard. I remember there were some great "Infants of Prague", as well as St. Patrick's.

After the parade, we would tear home to put on our "secular" costumes, which were usually handmade. In the 60's, it was a cool to be "Vampira", a "bum", or a "beatnik"....(pre Beatles of course) We would visit the convent and the rectory to show the nuns and priests our costumes (was there a more wonderful priest than Father Sherry) and then we would proceed to every store on Fleming Avenue, i.e., Banner's candy store and a store we called "the deli". We would even stop into the bars where the regulars were good for some money!!

We would spend the rest of the evening parading up and down every stairwell in the Pru, in all five courts. Crowds of kids marauding up and down the steps clutching pillow cases loaded with candy. As we marched passed friends on the stairs, we would yell to each other which apartments had the best candy (chocolate).....At the end of the night, my sisters Sheila and Kathi, my brother Michael and me would empty the pillow cases onto the living floor and after our parents gave the candy a cursory look, we used to barter with each other for the best chocolate, bubble gum and other candies. Of course we discarded the razor blade infested unwrapped apples!! (has there ever really been one???)

We would spend a good amount of time shoving candy in our mouths while lovingly inspecting our booty. Finally, my mom would tell us we had to go to bed because the next day was All Saints Day and we had to go to 9 AM Mass. The world seemed okay to me then knowing that we had all that candy to look forward for at least a week!!!!

Barbara Horan Vitale, resided at 40 Lexington St, and went to St. Al's from 1959 to 1965 (I went to 8th grade at Good Counsel in North Newark)


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