Life is a Collection of Moments…Halloween Fun in 1923

Life is just a collection of moments, 
       Some tell us who we are,
                 Others what might have been…


During the past weeks of rainy weather, I looked through some of my mother’s keepsakes, and I found a little book entitled The 1923 Children’s Party Book. It shows games and recipes for the major holidays starting with New Year’s Eve and continues through the year ending with a Christmas party. 1923—a moment in time, and its fun to think about those parties.

The dedication at the beginning of the book is to …
Busy Mothers, whose first thoughts are to surround the health and happiness of their children with every safeguard,
To Better and Happier Homes—where the absorbing problem of getting the most out of life is ever subordinated to the joys and responsibilities of parenthood.

It’s difficult to imagine reading a dedication like that in any book that is published nowadays. It is certainly different from the thinking in today’s world. Times were simple, less hectic, and moms didn’t work outside the home.

1923—well, I don’t know about that year personally, but I do remember life in the 1940s before television brought the world into our homes. Children were not involved in a lot of never-ending extracurricular activities. I walked home after school, had an afternoon snack then sat down and did my homework. We spent time as a family, at least that’s how it was in my home in the 1940s.

I remember sitting down to dinner with my parents every night and we’d talk about our day. Today, we hear a lot about spending quality time with our children—quality time in the 1940s was mother washing dishes and me drying them. In the winter after the kitchen was cleaned and dishes put away, we would play games like Chinese checkers, monopoly, work puzzles, or read a book.

Summertime in Texas was always hot; think about it, there was no air conditioning. It was cooler outside than inside the house so after the evening meal we would sit in the front yard, visit with neighbors, and sometimes mother or daddy would tell me stories.

I remember elementary school, but I don’t remember any after-school activities, however, doing homework and reading books is a very vivid memory. I do remember walking to and from school with friends. My parents had one car that my dad drove to work, but I had many friends whose family did not even own a car so we walked or rode the bus. I remember going to birthday parties of close friends—birthday parties were the highlight of our life! It was definitely simpler times!



A peep into the past…
it’s October so here’s some  Halloween fun
from The 1923 Children’s Party Book.

 The book suggests making the house look as mysterious as possible with heaps of corn shocks, autumn leaves, and grinning pumpkin lanterns. It suggests sticking a scarecrow in one corner, a ghost in another, and “do not have too much light.” The written invitations were mailed and they asked each guest to come in costume.

Several games are devoted to predicting the player’s fate and who they will marry. The first game listed is Bobbing for Apples, but with a twist—it suggests trying to bite apples suspended on strings with hands clasped behind—especially if a mischievous person helps by swinging the apple! It goes on to say everyone must catch the apple then peel it. Pare in one long piece, if possible, and then toss the skin over the left shoulder. The letter it forms will give a clue as to the player’s fate!

The Grab Bag—into a large bag put a little bag for every girl present. In these little bags are small articles that will determine the occupation of the girls’ future husbands. A bottle of medicine (druggist), a pen (author), a hammer (carpenter), scissors and spool (tailor), and so on.

More Fortune Telling—in a tub of water, launch little half walnut-shell boats, each with the name of a boy or girl written on it. Stand in the center of each boat a tiny lighted candle. If two boats float together, those persons surely will marry. If the lights burn brightly their lives will be happy and unadventurous. Why unadventurous? I looked up the word and it means careful, conservative, cautious, safe, and stay-at-home. Different times!

And for more fun, Invisible Surprises—give each guest an orange envelope which must not be opened until quite late. The paper inside seems blank but when held over a candle,the surprises, which are written in lemon juice, become readable. Something like the following will be found to be lots of fun.
               In the front room two steps to the right…
                   Your lover waits for you tonight.

There are other games such as Guess Who where a person stands behind a sheet with only feet showing at the bottom. Guests must figure out who that person is. A version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey for Halloween becomes The Tom Cat Game. It appears Halloween was predicting the future in 1923—today’s Halloween is more about spiders and goblins and horror houses.

There are recipes for Halloween treats, Calumet Doughnuts, Tarry Apples, Halloween Sunshine Cake and Cookies, Cocoanut Pop-Corn Crisps, and the most unusual one is Lighted Ice Cream.

Lighted Ice Cream
3 cups cream
3 cups milk
2-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla
6 eggs
Mix and freeze until hard.
For serving, shape it with the usual cone-shaped ice cream scoop.
Quickly roll the cones in chopped nut-meats, place each come o a plate, top it with a tiny candle in a birthday cake candleholder, or the candles many be stuck in by means of toothpicks.
Pour around each cone a sauce made by cooking together maple syrup, a few raisins and a bit of stick cinnamon for ten minutes, then chilling the mixture.   Light the candles and serve!

After the games, the little book suggests ending the Halloween Party with dancing. It reminds us that the table must be as spooky as possible, and at ten o’clock the costumes will be judged!

I don’t remember ever going to a Halloween Party when I was young, but we did go Trick or Treating in our neighborhood. No tricks were allowed, only treats! If we had a costume, it was homemade and very simple. We just went to a few houses on our block and most people passed out homemade treats or fruit. My most vivid memory of Halloween was the year my little black and white cocker spaniel was stolen. Sigh…

I’m thankful for those simple times when I grew up, when family and family activities were more important than ball games, dancing classes, and the myriad of things available to the youth of today. It was quality time spent with parents, learning who they were, what they valued, and forming a strong foundation that we would need as we grew into young adults and entered a scary world. And I wonder—what is defining the youth of today?

Some moments are engraved on our soul,
Moments that can never be forgotten…
It’s who we are; it’s what defines us…

I’m hoping you will scroll down to the Leave a Reply and share a memory!

About Betty Kerss Groezinger

Betty Kerss Groezinger, a native Texan, was born in Dallas. She was a legal researcher for President Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri, taught business courses at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri, and on her return to Dallas, she worked for more than a decade with advertising agencies. She has been a resident of Irving, Texas, since 1965, and is now working on the sequel to The Davenport Dilemma.
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3 Responses to Life is a Collection of Moments…Halloween Fun in 1923

  1. Patty Gartman says:

    Charming post – thanks.


  2. Charles Connell says:

    Betty I can relate to this in so many is almost like we grew up in the same family. Love recalling these things so much a part of life. We didn’t realize at the time how good it was. Let’s all pray that we can recapture that kinder and gentle life. Thank you so much.


  3. Jo Kirkbride says:

    Love all of this. Remembering is great. I wonder what my grands will remember


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