In yesterday’s post about Halloween candy, I mentioned 12-year-old S.Hooligan is no longer interested in trick-or-treat. That’s the same age I was when I missed going out in costume for the first time, but it wasn’t for lack of interest.
In autumn of 1966, the Cincinnati Strangler was killing victims with terrifying regularity. City officials decided a nighttime trick-or-treat was too dangerous, so they changed it to the last Sunday afternoon in October. In daylight and it wasn’t even on Halloween. What a letdown.
As it happened, at that time I was huge Paul Revere & the Raiders fan. I’d discovered 16 Magazine that summer and instantly developed a crush on the band’s bassist, Phil “Fang” Volk. (He dethroned Batman’s Burt Ward in my heart; I think I was going for a picture of Robin when I bought the magazine in the first place.) Paul Revere & the Raiders were touring, and their Cincinnati appearance was at Music Hall on the afternoon of the last Sunday in October. I don’t recall now if Halloween had been changed at the time I bought my ticket, but I doubt I would have missed a chance to see “Fang” in person.
A couple weeks ago I went on a ghost tour of Music Hall with Diamondqueen, That Poor Man, and J.Hooligan. The tour led us onto the stage at one point, and the guide recounted some of the bands who had played there. “And Paul Revere and the Raiders,” I whispered to J.Hooligan.
“Who’s that?” J.Hooligan replied. He does know a lot of ’60s music, so I mentioned a couple of titles. “Oh, yeah. ‘Kicks,'” J. acknowledged and sang a snatch of it as we were guided off the stage.
That October, 1966 concert was one of the great disappointments of my childhood, but more about that in a minute. It was actually my second rock concert ever. The first was the Beatles at Crosley Field that August (read my post about that here). That time, at least, I’d gone with a girlfriend. For the Music Hall concert, I went alone. I think Mom or Dad dropped me off at the door. When we were at Music Hall recently, I asked Diamondqueen, “Can you imagine dropping S.Hooligan off anywhere by herself?” Diamondqueen replied no, but things were much, much different now.
There was probably festival seating for the concert. Somehow I wound up in the balcony but with a good view of the stage. I was among teenagers, but fortunately no one bothered me. They were too busy smoking, groping each other, and generally being noisy. Once the lights went down, though, we are all part of the same sea of screaming fans.
As was typical of concerts then, there were numerous opening acts, none of which I can recall now. I do remember various members of the Raiders making sudden appearances in the middle of other peoples’ sets, slapstick stuff like chasing each other across the stage in weird costumes. I peered hard to see if Phil Volk was one of them but couldn’t tell.
It seemed to take forever, but finally Paul Revere and the Raiders took the stage. My eyes nearly rolled out of my head, I was staring so hard to find Fang, but the bassist onstage just didn’t look like him. After the opening number, they made an announcement that broke my heart: Fang wasn’t with them, he was sick. (As a gag, Fang had his name printed in tape on the back of his base, and he would turn the bass over during a performance to elicit cheers from the fans. During the announcement about his absence, Fang’s replacement turned his bass over to reveal the word “SICK.”)
I was pleased to get to see the band in person, but I was bitterly disappointed by Phil Volk’s no-show. I believe I read in one of the fan magazines that he’d had rheumatic fever or something similarly serious. In fact, I also read that he’d been at Music Hall that day, disguised in the crowd as a bus driver. This infuriated me even more–maybe I’d passed him in the hall and didn’t even know it.
I don’t know if the disillusionment of this concert had any impact, but I lost interest in Fang after that. Peter Tork had been gaining on him ever since “The Monkees” premiered that September. On New Year’s Eve, I went to my third rock concert–the Monkees. And Peter was there! I couldn’t have handled the disappointment of two of my idols not showing up.
Anyhow, that wasn’t the end of my trick-or-treating. For many years we had daylight hours for begging, which just wasn’t the same, but I’m pretty sure I went out as late as 1968. In the early ’70s, the political powers reinstated trick-or-treat to its traditional nighttime Halloween hours. Even though I was nearly twenty by then and it was pouring down rain, I went out briefly with my youngest brother, who really was a bit old for it as well. One woman mocked his low voice by gruffly chanting “Trick or treat?!” back at him, but we didn’t care. Halloween as it should be had been reinstated, and I wasn’t about to miss it.