The BIG lollie houses are in Shepherd Street.
By gerard oosterman
As we planned to live in Bowral we thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to experience how Halloween was celebrated there. The grandsons, all three of them, had been preparing for the event and their mothers had rummaged in wardrobes to retrieve last year garbs, knuckle dusters, fierce looking hatchets and of course the conical hats with the skull masks.
Little 6year old Max, who would like nothing more than to grow up on a diet of lollies was especially excited about the prospect of bulging bags with sweets. Back in a very leafy suburb where they live, each year’s Halloween had been highly successful. Of course, those very green suburbs were always terrific for Halloween fans. The last few years many single houses with huge gardens were easy pickings for the money merchants to demolish and put up 8 townhouses instead. The ‘treat and trick’ kids get 8 chances instead of just the one. Against that, some of the latest now have formidable electronic gates which can only be opened by proper identity checks and clearances through the use of a walkie-talkie system and remotes. None the less, bagfuls were collected and the Bowral environment would have to do a lot to even come close.
The big day had almost arrived and the night before our daughters and their sons managed to liaise and merged together at Bowral and had settled in a friend’s house with take away Chinese meals, Harry Potter movie on the telly, and the knuckle dusters and other Halloween paraphernalia tucked under the kids beds.
Halloween was only hours away. The question; what would be the differences between the Halloweens of Sydney and Bowral, if any? Could those differences be based on the social aspects of the inhabitants? Some of the more salubrious suburbs of Sydney are very much populated by social climbers keen on material goodies rather than, well, not much else, according to our daughters. Bowral, on the other hand is very much the territory of the ‘arrived’. Retired politicians, (Hewson is selling his abode at a mere $11.000.000) and successful race horse breeders, notable TV personalities , a mixture of gangsters and some poor sods that still catch the daily train to Sydney for work, but, hopefully, not much longer . Those gated communities are on the rise there as well but nowhere like in Sydney.
The next morning, the Bowral community woke to a sunny day. The newsagent girls had already donned conical hats; their hair dyed a ghoulish blue. This was a good omen and I told the kids so at my return home with newspaper tucked under my arms. I also bought some lollies just in case of a disaster. The gardens are huge and it takes almost a hike to just reach the front door. How much stamina would our grandsons have to traverse those large gardens with miles of delphiniums and acres of petunias?
At about 5.30 pm we set off in 2 cars with the 2 mothers, three grandsons and me. It was hot and the Halloween outfits were made of impenetrable black Nylon. The kids had also grown and the outfits were tight around the crutches. The mothers had suggested making cuts to give more room. But ‘my undies will show’, the kids retorted. Well,’ put on black underpants and no one will notice’. ‘No way’, Jak said. Off they went. The tight crutches a small price to pay for retaining dignity.
The first few attempts were lousy. The long walk-ups to the front door, past the parked car and barking terrier, and back again without as much as a single person opening doors were discouraging. Perhaps the residents had locked themselves up in anticipation of a real Halloween or were of Scottish descent. After some five doors knocks, some success. Thomas and Jak came back smiling. Only Max was still miffed. They each had a packet of raisins!
All of a sudden another competing group of Trick and Treat kids came on the scene, accompanied by conical attired mothers with flowing witches’ dresses and wildly waving arms. ‘It is in Shepherd Street’ one mother told Max. ‘That’s where the really BIG lolly houses are’, she added.
We, of course forgot to ask where Shepherd Street was. No worries, my daughter looked up on her Sat Nav gadget and we all jumped in the two cars and in no time found the right street with the big lolly houses. It turned out that an old lady had arranged a street meeting with other owners and they all decided then to make an effort to make Halloween special for the local kids. Balloons and signs would be put on gates indicating that treats were there for the ‘tricking’.
What lovely social enterprising by this old lady. Bowral might be the place to retire to.
Remember; Shepherd Street is where the really BIG LOLLIE houses are.