Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hallalujah I'm a Bum

Just an addendum to the preceding Halloween post, since I was thinking about Halloween in general and my childhood memories of the night in particular.

One constant during the Halloweens of my youth was something we called "Trick or Treat for UNICEF". It was an annual fundraiser for the UN Children's Fund, and pretty much every year one or two of my friends - typically the ones whose parents were a little more crunchy granola than mine - would forego the sweeties in order to solicit coin for the poor kiddies overseas.It was ubiquitous, and most adults kept some change handy by the door for the UNICEF kids.

Several years ago my bride came across a hardbound atrocity entitled "Jack the Bum and the Halloween Handout" deep in the remaindered bin at the local Goodwill. It's a truly appalling confection of late Seventies "New Yorker"-style humor that I'd pitch back to the maw of Goodwill in a heartbeat if I could except that my daughter loves the dickens out of it. But the macguffin in this turkey is that Jack, who is looking for a "hot cup of coffee" (a short dog of wine being, apparently, unappealing to the choosy urban pioneer) finds out that if you say "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" that people will give you MONEY.Mind you, our boy Jack doesn't want to take money from hapless kiddies in India - he just wants coffee. And he's been sleeping under a bridge or something, so he has no idea what UNICEF is, or why people give you money for saying "trick or treat for UNICEF".

I have to stop now or I'll go into a catatonic state like the epileptic scientist lady in "The Andromeda Strain" when the red light flashes. But suffice to say that in the Sixties and early Seventies you couldn't swing a black cat without hitting some costumed kid with one of those little orange UNICEF boxes.

But not anymore.

And I have no idea why.

I haven't seen a UNICEF trick-or-treater for decades. Hell, I honestly don't remember the last time I had one come to the door, and I've been handing out candy on the last day of October since the middle Eighties.For some reason the little people don't come looking for Halloween handouts anymore, and that has me wondering what the heck happened to this odd little part of my childhood; it's not often that something just stops. But this tradition has, and I wonder - anyone out there know why it did?

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