Back in time: Chicagoland Halloween safety tips from 1985

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year-old daughter, who will never have to taste a Tab or Pepsi Free.

A great deal has been made of the fact that “Back to the Future II” took place in October of 2015, and even correctly predicted the Chicago Cubs impending World Series win … oh, wait, forget that last part.

In honor of all the “Back to the Future” hoopla (and ignoring the fact that no one actually liked “Back to the Future II” when it came out), I thought I would finish up my month long exploration of parental and childhood fears by taking this blog’s DeLorean back in time to 1985, when we can open our gull wing doors into the atmosphere of fear mongering that surrounded parenting on Halloween.

Below is the content of a 1985 safety handout run through many a Ditto machine and distributed to parents across 1980’s Chicagoland – from Schmerler Ford’s Elk Grove Village to King Nissan’s Niles – to keep their kids safer from Halloween horrors than they were from Hillfarm Dairy salmonella outbreaks or Helmut Jahn’s architecture.


It’s almost time to dress up our little ghosts and ghouls and hit the sidewalks all across the city and suburbs on the hunt for sweet treats and spooky fun! trick-or-treating can be a delightful time for kids and their parents, provided we all take a few extra moments to make sure we rattle our bones responsibly!

See and be seen

Remember that the sun sets earlier this late in the year – even before Larry Lujack’s recently adopted afternoon drive slot has ended – and your trick-or-treater may not be visible to passing motorists. Imagine the potential for tragedy were your little one crossing the street in their black and navy Hordak costume when a Pontiac Fiero with its pop-up lights malfunctioning sped around the corner.

Consider a light colored costume to better reflect the light.

Recommended: C3PO, Rainbow Bright, Hall

Not Recommended: Darth Vader, Murky Dismal, Oates

Also remember that your child will enjoy a broader field of vision if they are not wearing Ray-Bans. Many children are considering Bears QB Jim McMahon costumes which include sunglasses. Although your trick-or-treater may say Jimbo is their man, consider a Steve Fuller costume instead.

Only you can prevent fires

A number of elements to Halloween costumes are highly flammable or predisposed to melt. Remind your child that the plastic smock to their “Small Wonder” Vickie the Robot costume should not come in contact with the radiator, nor should hot cider be drunk through the slit in their rubber-banded Garbage Pail Kid mask.

When smoking around your children, do not ash on the crinolines of their Cyndi Lauper and Madonna costumes, and avoid igniting the hair spray associated with the same. The amount of Shpritz Forte required to costume a child as any member of Culture Club, Wham! or nearly anyone from “USA for Africa” could turn a grade-schooler into an incendiary device.

Consider the feelings of others

Some costumes may seem like harmless fun, but could be emotionally painful for the those who identify with the subject of the costume. After smearing black makeup on your child’s face for a William ‘the Refrigerator’ Perry costume, be careful not to put too many pillows under their jersey, as it may hurt the feelings of big-boned people.

Watch for tricks in the treats

It is common knowledge that Halloween brings out the dangerous sociopathic impulses in otherwise normal adults, and that these impulses usually manifest through the distribution of Halloween treats which are uninteresting or even harmful to children. Some homes have been known to give out such maliciously conceived items as Jack T. Chick evangelical tracts, toothbrushes and even fruit.

Most disturbing are the omnipresent razor blades in Halloween candy. Though I have never found a razor blade in my own children’s bags, it totally happened to my cousin’s friend. The razors are most commonly found in candy apples, popcorn balls and other large format items. Smaller blades are rumored to have been found in those taffy things in the black and orange paper, and even in tiny chains of Sixlets.

Consider bringing your trick-or-treaters to a local hospital on Nov. 1, as most will happily bombard your child and their treat bag with X-rays an unlimited number of times to watch for errant razor blades and needles – a much safer alternative to biting into candy given out by strangers.

Make sure to dump your child’s treat bag on the dining room table in full light and sort the contents to ensure there is no other dangerous detritus your child may have accidentally scooped up in the dark – no one wants their kid biting down on Benson & Hedges butts, Lowenbrau pull tabs or small bits of polystyrene from discarded McDLT packages.

Just say no

The war on drugs doesn’t stop just because it’s time to do the Monster Mash. Halloween is the perfect time for pushers to offer gateway opportunities for addiction to young people.

As all savvy parents know, LSD is far more than an Aliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah song, and “Acid” tabs are commonly handed out to costumed children under the guise of whimsical stickers. All stickers, whether Scratch ‘n Sniff or puffy with googly eyes, should be collected and burned (outdoors with full ventilation) during the Halloween season in case they are made of drugs.

Some suburban law enforcement agencies are even warning that PCP, or “Angel Dust” (the popular drug which caused an unfortunate teenager named Helen Hunt to jump through a window), is distributed in child-friendly forms, as well. Angel Dust is now commonly disguised as Topp’s Wacky Packages stickers with parodies of consumer goods such as “Aqua Flush Toothpaste” and “Chock Full O’ Guts,” and even as Fleer 1983 Ron Kittle Rookie cards your children will be drawn to kiss, thus ensuring ingestion of the drug.

Beware of sinister forces

Since the decade began, nine out of every five children have been kidnapped, mostly by satanic cults. In the past five years, cases of SRA, or Satanic Ritual Abuse are up 666 percent. Coincidence? Doubtful.

Satanic cults are becoming an even more ubiquitous and diabolical threat than the Manson Family of the ‘60s or the People’s Temple of the ‘70s, and it is believed that more people have declared themselves to be servants of Lucifer since 1977 than have declared that they are “a Pepper.” It is a grim state of affairs, indeed.

Require your child to stay vigilant of Satan worshippers by keeping an eye out for windowless conversion vans, particularly those airbrushed with Boris Vallejo paintings.

When out begging for candy, warn your child not to accept any invitations to play Dungeons & Dragons, a gateway to the occult using excessively faceted dice. Remember that today’s Lawful Good Half-Elven Fighter is tomorrow’s Anton LaVey.

Avoid all contact between your children and heavy metal music. This includes such albums as Helloween’s “Walls of Jericho,” Slayer’s “Hell Awaits,” or Hellhammer’s “Unhallowed Hellish Hell Halls (from Hell).” All of these albums, when played forward, invite listeners to make sacrifices in the name of the Prince of Darkness. When played backward, the diabolical calls to action increases exponentially, and can cause a listener’s head to burst with centipedes as in the 1982 public service film, “Halloween III: Season of the Witch.”

Just follow the handy tips above and your family’s Halloween can be more treat than trick, and more Son of Svengoolie than Resurrection Mary!

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