Halloween WWII Style


This story is condensed from: EVERY VETERAN HAS A STORY_______

The other morning I woke up and looked out the window and saw pumpkins smashed and some decorations strewn.  “Ah, good,” I said to my daughters, “someone has done their research on the history of Halloween!”
They rolled their eyes and kept reading the comics over their bowls of cereal.  After 13 years of fatherhood, I’d lost the ability to shock them…or they were hoping by their indifference to ward off the inevitable history lecture to follow.  If so — it didn’t work.
Foe much of our history, Halloween wasn’t about trick-or-treating or going around in costumes – it was about vandalism.  Halloween celebrates the dark side, the side we reject and fear – all that we try to deny.  Mischief making has historically been a part of that.  If you look at newspapers 80 or 90 years ago, you’ll see very little about costumes or treats, but a lot about tricks.  I think I can make a strong case that WWII stopped the customary vandalism.
The first Halloween during WWII was in 1942, when the nation was in full-tilt war production mode and millions of men were in uniform.  Children and teenagers were suddenly set free from adult supervision, as mothers and fathers spent more time working or away from home altogether.  There were widespread fears of juvenile delinquency and criminal behavior.  Fear was a dominant emotion during the war years and the vandalism one might expect on Halloween now seemed to portend greater crimes.  Many communities did, in fact, cancel Halloween that year.
Some folks saw the opportunity to co-opt, rather than ban, the holiday by hosting costume  parties, dances, etc. to lure the would-be delinquents off the streets and into safer environments. (Still not much candy available though, due to the rationing of sugar.)  It worked.  Halloween vandalism feel off in 1942 and after the war, neighborhoods began hosting a kind of roving festival for kids – trick-or-treating.
So, this year if you run across some smashed pumpkins, consider them mild throwbacks to a darker version of this holiday……
qod9a1 Moving-picture-skeleton-sneaking-around-animated-gif

A question for the readers – I seem to recall my mother telling me that Halloween was indeed about the dark side, and Thanksgiving was NOT about turkey dinners.  But, thanks to the Depression, that was the day when children went door-to-door begging for food; and that is the reason why some people put fruit instead of candy in the Halloween bags.  Does anyone else remember a story like this?



To locate and Print OUT the FREE templates to carve your own military pumpkins – CLICK HERE!!

Some of the animated photos for today’s post were created by artist, Kevin Weir, who used archived photos for his work.  They were located at HERE!


Halloween Party Collage



Alice Braden – Ogilvie, MN & Waquoit, MA; US Air Force, jet engine mechanicjohncmaxwell383606

Cliff Corcoran – Sulphur, LA; US Air Force, MSgt. (Ret. 25 years)

John Gilmore – WPalm Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st

Edward Hopkins – Waiuku, NZ; RNZ Navy # 10691, Chief Petty Officer ’45-’77

John Jacoby – Sacramento, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW, Silver Star

John Klingbeil – Edmonton, CAN; RC Army, Chaplain

Felin “Red” Pipkin Sr. – Hinesville, GA; US Army, MSgt. (Ret. 32 years)

Martin Taylor – NY,CA & FL; US Army Air Corps & Reserves, bomber pilot, WWII, POW, LtCol. (Ret)



About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 30, 2014, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 179 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the retrospective and the gifs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very good, I did enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed reading that post, Halloween is no big deal here in Australia, was interesting to learn the origin and traditions of Halloween.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So glad someone remembers what Hallowe’en (the Eve of All Hallows) is about. Certainly not a night to allow your children out of doors. The pumpkins were placed outside the door to frighten off evil spirits because this was the night the witches flew. Hallowe’en was certainly no time to be ‘happy’!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Great backstory on Halloween vandalism. I hadn’t realized it was such a problem back then. Nor had I thought about the kind of trouble unsupervised kids would get into…makes me think of my dad and I’m betting he was one of them. Though if there was a party, he’d of been the first one there! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Fear was a dominant emotion during the war years 。。。” – it still is. It’s catching on here in Australia, thank you USA.


  7. There’s a Fibber McGee and Molly episode set at Halloween, I want to say 1940 — so a little outside the range here, but close enough to understand the social factors at work — and all Fibber can think about is how to sneak out of his neighbor’s party enough to wreak a little mischief, like letting the air of car tires. It seems beneath even Fibber’s dignity, and you can probably guess what the punch line of the episode was just from that premise.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It wasn’t me! 😉 I did NOT smash the pumpkins! 😉 Ha! I did NOT even know any of this…but, then I wasn’t even born yet!
    GREAT story and GREAT animations! 🙂
    One Halloween I had the pumpkins decorating my porch smashed. 😦 I was so sad when I found them the next day. But the next Summer…right below my porch some plants started growing. I didn’t know what they were, so I asked a friend and he said, “You’re growing pumpkins.” I was so surprised for a moment, and then made the connection with the Halloween before. I loved growing pumpkins and grew them on purpose after that year! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂
    PS…I always read the names aloud and think about what great men and women they must of been.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks again, GP. I love the pumpkin carvings. I’m forwarding your post onward. Happy Halloween! Please save the candy corn for me. ☕️❤️


  10. Reblogged this on Vanessence and commented:
    Now those are some pumpkins! Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wonderful post. Have a great weekend!


  12. Fantastic post. Everytime I read your posts I think of some of my grandfather’s friends who were vets from the PTO, one was a Bataan Death March survivor. Thank you so much and please keep it up..


  13. Loved this. Those pumpkins are amazing.


  14. Happy Halloween, GP!


  15. The neighborhood where I grew up would have all the trees TP’d on Nov. 1st. The kids were pretty rowdy.



    • To be honest – I had never seen a house TP’d until I became an adult. I guess our neighborhood wasn’t as rowdy as yours. Thanks for visiting our military haunted post, Marcy!


  16. I wish that stopping vandalism here was as easy as throwing a party … trouble is, it would have to be every night.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Very informative, thank you. In northern England in the nineteenth century, this kind of vandalism was associated more with Bonfire Night (November 5th) I have read how the following morning, you could walk ten, twenty miles, and every single gate was pulled off its hinges and thrown into other people’s gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I never knew of Halloween until I studied in the States in the 1980s! In New Zealand (at least for my family) November 1st was All Saints Day and we had to go to church! November 2nd was All Souls Day and we had to go to church again and pray for the dead 😦 Now in New Zealand the trick and treating tradition has arrived and no one has heard of All Saints and All Souls!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. The worst that I remember were the instances of the rowdier high schoolers “TPing” teachers’ and less popular kids’ trees, shaving soaped windows, and tossing rotten eggs. The situation seems to have gotten more destructive and even violent, these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Excellent read, GP Cox! 🙂
    Wishing you a great weekend,
    Dina & Co


  21. Wow, this post is amazing. Love the animations here!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Reblogged this on Pacific Paratrooper and commented:

    A few more tidbits added – So take a peek!

    Liked by 1 person

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