Halloween in McGill in the 1940s
By Keith Gibson
Halloween in the 1940s was a whole lot different than it is now, 75 years later. During the years of WW11, many items were rationed. Clothing was hard to get and so we wore lots of “hand me downs” and I remember my clothes seemed to have a lot of patches on the knees and elbows.
The knees I can understand since we were usually on them playing marbles, (for the newer generations, that was a game of considerable skill and delicate, dexterity), but the only explanation for the elbows was that we were constantly rubbing them on the top of the dinner table. Why, you ask? Well I remember my father’s stern warning-get your elbows off the table, every time we ate a meal.
The stores didn’t have a lot of masks and costumes to select from for the holiday. We had to make our own, which of course was quite a project sometimes. It did require being very creative, unlike today’s buy it off the shelf and discard it after one use.
Trick or treating was a lot of fun. Candy was not easy to find in the stores so most moms made it from scratch. We kids ended up the night with homemade cookies, muffins, fudge, taffy and my favorite, divinity. We didn’t have to worry about dangerous stuff or weird people. We stopped at most houses in the area and of course we knew which ones had the best stuff.
The original ballpark in McGill was a dirt field, with the grandstand and home plate on the opposite side it is now. The field was level around the base line , but then sloped uphill to the grade school. There was no grass anywhere. The new park with grass was built in 1948-49. This meant an end to the great Halloween parties at the ballpark. Kennecott would bring lots of railroad ties and stand them in teepee fashion and then light them on fire. These bonfires provided light and kept us warm for the activities. There were lots of games, apple bobbing, races etc. There was a tall pipe pole that had some greenbacks on the top for anyone that could climb it.
We would line up to get a turn at getting the money. There was a slight catch to climbing the pole. It was covered in grease. The moms were not pleased, as the laundry soap in those days did not contain a detergent.
I remember having to shave brown bars of Fels-Naptha soap to put in the Maytag washer. The ones with the wringers that us kids all remembered getting fingers caught in the rollers.
Another crazy thing was the pig chase. A wild, medium sized pig was covered in grease and turned loose. It was chased all over town.
I remember one year that Tali Mellos caught it and added it to his bunch on his ranch. The whole town turned out for the bonfires and it was a shame to not be able to continue after 1948.
I have tried to find a picture of the party, but not one is available. Anybody have one, or any memories, please let me know at P.O. Box 1315, McGill, Nv. 89318.