This Halloween there was a noticeable lack of young ones running around in disguises, knocking on doors in hopes of obtaining a delicious treat.  No, this year the streets were much quieter than in the past. The rowdiness that usually comes with the holiday was replaced by an abundance of safe fun for everyone in every town across the Unites States, sponsored by the United Service Organization.

The government made sure that youngsters knew that pranks and mischief fell under the same category as sabotage in this time of war. Officials say that war workers who are putting their all into the war effort every single day by constructing materials to send overseas to soldiers should not be bothered.  Local police announced in radio blast, “Even ringing doorbells—the last refuge of the Halloween reveler—will be frowned on tomorrow night. A tired worker who needs his rest should not be disturbed or he might slow down his country’s vital production lines.” There was no trick or treating this year.

The new federal tax on alcohol started up two days later, so the rush to buy liquor put authorities on edge, as they were expecting quite a few stick-ups at the liquor stores.  Police patrolled the streets, but in Washington the only suspicious activity occurred when a group of soldiers pointed to a building and shouted, “Don’t jump!” which caused a momentary frenzy.

Halloween is often a night of great mischief from adolescents and teens; people could always expect their gateposts to be messed with; their trashcan lids missing and even a cow to be tethered in their front yard. This year, however, the government worked to provide activities for the kids so they would not be roaming the streets. The USO and the Citizens Association provided double feature movies at the local high schools that the kids could come and watch while their parents attended Halloween parties. There were so many activities for the kids that the police did not find any suspicious activity stemming from the youth whatsoever.

The local YMCAs, YWCAs, and Knights of Columbus buildings in each town were turned over to the USO for the night, and each held up to 750 soldiers and their friends. These venues were the place to be for adults, as they did not have to worry about their kids causing mischief.  There were three orchestras per venue and an abundance of food and drink. Moving pictures of the guests were also taken by the hosts of the events. The men in uniform appeared grateful for this small relief in a time of great stress.

Boys carving jack-o-lanterns in the pre-war years. From Library of Congress.


“Halloween most Peaceful in Years here.” The Washington Post (1923-1954), Nov 01, 1942, pp. 1, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post,

“Halloween Unmasked.” The Washington Post (1923-1954), Oct 31, 1942, pp. 8, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post,