Monday, October 28, 2013

Hell night

Oct. 30, 1985

It’s Goosey Night.
At least that’s what they call it in these parts. In California they didn’t know what I meant by it. In Portland (OR) they called it Mischief Night.
The name changes, too, from neighborhood to neighborhood, although the weapons of youth are pretty much the same: eggs, water balloons, wax and soap.
Goosey Night is a more recent tradition, an effort to undo the civilizing of what essentially has become a commercial holiday.
The Eve of Halloween had no purpose originally.
It was Halloween that held the mischief in the past, an evening of ghosts, witches and spirits s3et loose before the greater religious holiday of All Souls Day locked them all back up in hell.
It was a wildcat night, when people could let go of their inhabitations.
In other religions it was even crazier involving various degrees of violence and more than a little sex.
By as time passed and society got greedy, the holiday became commercial and people had to create a new hell night just to let out the frustration.
Thus we got Goosey Night.
I remember very early during my young days at the Crooks Avenue house when I took a can of shoe polish to my uncle’s Valliant, and recall his rage the next morning although he never learned it was me that performed the evil act.
In later years, I teamed up with neighborhood kids for water balloon fights, stealing eggs out of my grandmother’s refrigerator when the supermarket refused to sell us any.
Soap and shaving cream were frequent tools used to scrawl obscene messages on every window, sometimes alluding to something dark and spiritual.
It was only later that we began to fear the darkness and the street gangs that terrorized our neighborhood, white gangs from the Clifton side doing battle with black gangs from Paterson, both still too young to own guns so settled for a variety of fire works.
Violence spread beyond that single night. So that soon gangs terrorized trick-or-treaters on the holiday itself, holding them up for the candy they collected. The newspapers on All Souls Day reported each incident as if major crimes.
There were other more disturbing reports of evil things done to treats by unscrupulous households, such as razors in apples and rat poison in candy.
By 1967, we no longer battled over candy, as race riots spilled into the night time and everybody lived in fear and candy gatherers on the white side of town often were guarded over by police cars, leaving white and black gangs to victimize the unprotected black kids still innocently collecting candy on the Paterson side.
By that time, Dave and I saw ourselves as Batman and Robin (both arguing over which of us was which) and swept through neighborhoods on rebuilt bicycles throwing ash cans at the street gangs who then chased us (often in cars) instead of the trick-or-treaters.

They never caught us. But they came close a few times. And I had no doubt of what they would have done if they had.

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