Way Back When: No Spooks on the Streets

Way Back When: No Spooks on the Streets title=
Way Back When: No Spooks on the Streets
6 Comments
Reads 1916

There were some Halloween parties this year, but little else was happening (Image: New York Public Library)

By Betsy J. Green

Halloween was celebrated quietly in 1919 – the first Halloween after the war in Europe had ended. But folks did dress up for costume parties. At the home at 1336 Garden Street (the home is still here), “Ghosts were seen stealthily finding their way about the premises and a witch settled herself in one corner to read the future of every person who came her way. Goblins were there, and it is said that a black cat was seen which crossed the path of several of the guests. Strange and fantastic costumes were in evidence, and the 40 guests enjoyed the frolic to the utmost.”


Betsy's Way Back When book -- 1918 -- is now available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. This is the fifth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at betsyjgreen.com​

Login to add Comments

6 Comments

Toggle Comments (Show)
bjgreen Nov 03, 2019 06:05 PM
Way Back When: No Spooks on the Streets

Vandalism/mischief was also a problem here in Santa Barbara in the past. Here's a quote from "Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1915": “‘The police will arrest all persons who attempt to molest private property or disturb residences or neighborhoods on Halloween,’” warned the SB police chief. Residents were advised to party at home, and stay off the streets. The paper continued, “Last year, hoodlums placed rocks on the street railway tracks in the hill section, carried off benches along the car line, breaking some, and in other ways broke the law. The street railway company will also be on the lookout this year in the hope of catching the rowdy element who caused such damage and danger last year.”

Flicka Nov 03, 2019 02:49 PM
Way Back When: No Spooks on the Streets

My uncle grew up in a little town in Kentucky (married Mom's sister here). He said on Halloween it was the only time of year even the little girls could be causing trouble (very Baptist community.) Kids would turn over outhouses.

a-1580130542 Nov 03, 2019 10:15 AM
Way Back When: No Spooks on the Streets

As a child of the 50's I was surprised by the claim that trick or treat started then. Certainly it was in practice but we assumed it was always done. Here is another view on that: "The earliest known North American occurrence of the Scottish Halloween custom of "guising" – children going from house to house for food or money while disguised in costume[2] – is from 1911, when children were recorded as having done this in Ontario, Canada.[3] In North America, trick-or-treating has been a Halloween tradition since the 1920s."

TWOSCOOPS Nov 02, 2019 10:28 AM
Way Back When: No Spooks on the Streets

Halloween originated in Ireland as the Celtic festival of Samhain around a thousand years ago, which is why so many of Halloween traditions – regardless of where you are in the world – are Irish! Halloween was originally a pagan festival called “Samhain,” meaning “end of summer.” Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought the holiday to the United States. The commercialization of Halloween started in the 1900s (would explain the 1919 Garden Street party) when postcards and die-cut paper decorations were produced. Halloween costumes started to appear in stores in the 1930s and the custom of 'trick-or-treat' appeared in the 1950s.

Please Login or Register to comment on this.