Saturday, 31 October 2015


It's Hallowe'en tonight and the mood  hangs heavy in the air,
so that's all the excuse I need to re-post this piece.  Back On October
25th, 1969, the third issue of WHIZZER & CHIPS went on sale, with
GUY FAWKES mask as a free gift.  It looks like the artwork of TOM
KERR to me, but regardless, I remember rushing over to the newsagent's
across the road from my house to buy it, the minute the shop opened in
the early hours of that Autumn morning a whopping 46 years ago.  (The
comic bears the date of November 1st, but British comics were trad-
itionally dated a week ahead to give them a longer shelf-life.)

Handy how both Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes Night were
covered by this issue coming out in advance of the two occasions.
I wonder if the mask was used by 'guisers' on October 31st, and then
'recycled' for use on their 'guys' on November 5th?  If so, quite a few
of them probably perished on top of a bonfire in parks and gardens
the length and breadth of the U.K.  It's a wonder any survived.

As this was the last Hallowe'en of my primary school days,
it was most likely the very last time I went out 'guising' (or 'trick
or treating' as they call it now), but I didn't wear this mask and have
no solid recollection of what I actually dressed up as that particular
year.  However, one glance at the above cardboard mask brings
back the sights, sounds and scents of that Autumn evening in
my old neighbourhood, so very long ago.

Makes me wish that I was ten years old again.  Did anyone
else have this W&C mask?  What are your memories of this
day in 1969?  (Or any childhood Hallowe'en night if you don't
go back that far.)  Spill all in the comments section.


Colin Jones said...

My only Halloween story is from 1978 - I was 12, my neighbour, Martin, was also 12 and our friend, John Williams, was 13 - we were considered too old to attend the Halloween party in the village hall so we hung around outside feeling a bit annoyed. Martin, who tended to be a trouble-maker at the best of times, decided to cause some mischief. For some reason one of the windows had a perfectly round hole in it which was just big enough for him to fit his hand through - on the other side of the window there was a tall cabinet so Martin stuck his hand through the hole and shoved the cabinet which fell over with a crash - cue lots of commotion from inside the hall and everybody rushed out to see what was happening. It got scary for a moment as there was a threat to call the police but it was decided that no harm had been done and we were allowed to join the Halloween party which is all we had wanted to begin with.

LeicesterJim said...

Didn't have Halloween back in the sixties. A modern American import!

Kid said...

I suppose that was the best way to keep an eye on you so that you didn't get up to any more mischief, eh, CJ? Was Martin the one who stole the super ball when he was out with you and your dad?


I'm afraid you are in error. LJ. I used to go out on Hallowe'en every year from around 1962/'63 right up until 1969. Although calling it 'trick or treat' is an American expression that Britain seemed to adopt a few years back (at least), All Hallows' Eve(n) is a well established custom that goes back centuries. As for the way it's celebrated as an occasion for kids in modern times, that goes back decades - again, at the very least.

Colin Jones said...

Yes, Kid, it was Martin who shoplifted that rubber ball - as I said, he was always a bit of a trouble-maker. But that Halloween is the only one I can remember at all from my childhood so they couldn't have been very eventful - we never went out doing Trick or Treat and I don't think we'd even heard of it. The only Halloween traditions I can remember were bobbing for apples and toffee apples. And did you know that in the Middle Ages Halloween was the traditional start of the Christmas season - so much for those people who say "keep Christmas in December". I've seen some Xmas stuff on sale already.

Kid said...

I'm not sure it was yet called 'trick or treat' in Britain in the '70s, CJ - I think that happened a bit later, but Hallowe'en was celebrated every year in Scotland and I assume in England also. I saw Christmas stuff in the shops back in September so it's really become just too ridiculous now. We shouldn't even have a whiff of it until mid-November at the earliest, after Guy Fawkes Night.

Steve Does Comics said...

Yep, it was definitely celebrated in England in the 1960s. I remember standing in our back garden, in 1968, with my sister and my dad, with some turnips he'd hollowed out, carved scary faces into and placed lit candles inside.

I also remember making Halloween mobiles to hang from the classroom ceiling, in primary school and making witches' hats, using big sheets of black paper and staplers.

Kid said...

LJ must be a mere youngster, SDC. I remember someone writing into a newspaper when Lois & Clark was on TV, saying that their father had told them Superman had started in the '30s, but surely that couldn't be possible. Youngsters tend to think that everything started in their lifetime. Either that or he (LJ) has read that 'trick or treat' is an American term which worked its way over to this country relatively recently, and mistakenly thought it refers to the original custom itself.

Phil said...

As wee kiddie in the states in had an Aquaman costume! How cool was that? One thing I remember about Guy Fawkes night was a penny for the guy. And how by the late 70s the kids made really awful amateur guys and pestered you for money. Probably helped kill off Pennies for guy. Do kids still do it?

Kid said...

Y'know, Phil, I can't remember for certain if I ever saw anyone, even as a kid, asking for a 'penny for the Guy', but if I did, I haven't seen anyone do it in years. I've seen the odd Guy sitting on top of a bonfire in my time, but never one in recent years for the purpose of soliciting 'contributions'.

On deeper reflection, I have a vague recollection (if I'm not imagining it) of my brother once making a Guy in the hope of making a few pennies, but I don't think the venture was a success.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, my father always insisted that Trick or treat was invented in Scotland then taken to America. He got quite annoyed when people said it was an American import (I've also read that the Ku Klux Klan was invented by immigrant Scots in America, oops).

Kid said...

Well, Hallowe'en certainly didn't originate in the States, CJ, it's only the term 'Trick or Treat' which was once mainly American. Perhaps your father wasn't so much referring to the name, but the custom, thinking that's what others meant when they said it was a U.S. import. Clearly, that's what LJ thinks.

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