Tag Archive | Rainbow Girls

Trick or Treat

A tradition which spans centuries

October 25, 2022

My brothers trick or treating circa 1958

For children everywhere, dressing up for Halloween and getting to go out trick or treating is almost as great as Christmas. After all, what’s not to like about a day when you can put on a costume, roam the streets of your neighborhood in the dark, and have people fill your outstretched bag with candy?

For anyone who grew up in the 1950’s and later, Halloween has been a day to embrace the joys of childhood.

Which got me to wondering this week “When, exactly, did the tradition of trick or treating begin?”

For the answer we turn, of course, to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Since the Middle Ages, a tradition of mumming on a certain holiday has existed in parts of Britain and Ireland. It involved going door-to-door in costume, performing short scenes or parts of plays in exchange for food or drink. The custom of trick-or-treating on Halloween may come from the belief that supernatural beings, or the souls of the dead, roamed the earth at this time and needed to be appeased.”

Mummers – those who participate in costumes in pantomime plays- depicted

Okay, so it was not invented recently. Today’s current trend in the United States has its roots some 80 years ago:

“Almost all pre-1940 uses of the term ‘trick-or-treat’ are from the United States and Canada. Trick-or-treating spread throughout the United States, stalled only by World War II sugar rationing that began in April, 1942 and lasted until June, 1947.

Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children’s magazines Jack and Jill and Children’s Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. Trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip in 1951. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, and Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show. In 1953 UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.

(snip) The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of adults in the United States planned to give out confectionery to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children, teenagers, and young adults planned to go trick-or-treating or participating in other Halloween activities.

My own earliest memories of Trick or Treating on Halloween were likely from the second fall after we moved to Yakima. That would have been the year I was five. It is all a bit fuzzy but I remember getting to dress up as a gypsy and wearing a hard plastic face mask with the face of a smiling lady wearing a scarf and large earrings painted on it.

My older brother evaluating his loot circa 1958

It was my father who walked with my sister and me around the neighborhood. I’m pretty sure my older brother got to trick or treat with friends. The best part was when we got home and we dumped our prizes out on the living room floor and sorted the bounty.

This went on for the next five or six years. Eventually, my older brother ‘aged’ out since my mother had a rule that once you turned twelve you were too old for trick or treating. By the time I first went trick or treating, my oldest brother had been relegated to the passing out of candy.

When the year arrived I turned twelve, my mother had apparently been worn down by all her children because somehow I was allowed to go out trick or treating. The last year I remember participating was the year I was… 16! In my diary entry that year I wrote the following:

“In Reveille (yearbook class) we had a party, and it started to snow. The snow stuck, 2 inches of it. Andi & Vicki came down & we went out Trick or treating.”

I knew that it snowed the last year I went trick or treating but was surprised at how old I was!

Eventually the allure of trick or treating faded away… until October of 1990… and it was time to share the tradition with my offspring.

A few days before Halloween my son (in his tux, tail, and top hat) and I joined our Mom and Baby group for a party.

My son turned nine months old that Halloween and I dressed him up in a baby onesie which looked like a tiny tuxedo. I made him a black top hat and he was quite dapper. Then the hubby carted him to a few neighbors’ houses so he could trick or treat.

In the ensuing years, Halloween was ALWAYS a big deal for the kids, a tradition to be embraced. Each year they both would plan their costumes and this mom was frequently pressed into sewing services to create their vision.

My kids and nieces, ready to head out trick or treating. My son is dressed as the Pokemon Marawok and my daughter as a can-can girl. One of the years I did not make costumes.

By the time my daughter was a teenager, we were involved with the Rainbow Girls and Halloween was an opportunity to help the community. For most of those years, our group planned a food collection event. The girls, most of them now too old to be trick or treating, would distribute fliers a week to ten days before the holiday to about 300 houses asking for people to donate canned items for the food bank. Then, on Halloween night, the girls would go in pairs to the houses and collect the food. An adult would be in a car on the road so the girls had a place to put the collected items.

When I asked my daughter what her most memorable Halloween was, here’s what she wrote:

“Not sure if this counts but my most memorable Halloween from my youth was the year I was worthy advisor (president) and we collected like 600lbs of canned goods for NW Harvest.”

Although the photo is a bit fuzzy, you can see the 600K+ pounds of food collected by the Rainbow Girls. 2009

Although I miss the excitement of Halloween night with my children, it is fun to see a new generation ring my doorbell and shout “Trick Or Treat!” when I open it.

The link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trick-or-treating

The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls

April 6, 2021

99 years young

The official emblem of the Order

My mother in law has often said that the toughest job in the world is being a kid. Her argument being that kids have so much to learn and are faced with ever changing rules and expectations, that figuring it all out is a difficult job.

I would add, however, that it is the teenage years which are the most challenging for any young person. You take hundreds of puberty driven boys and girls and put them in giant Petri dish called school and, well, it’s a tough few years.

For many teenagers – if they are lucky – find their salvation through sports, music, other arts, or outdoor programs like Scouts. My saving activity was The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. It was founded on April 6, 1922, now just one year short of its 100th anniversary.

Its beginnings were humble enough. A group of adults who belonged to the Mason and Eastern Star organizations in McAlester, Oklahoma, had learned of a group for teenage boys, The Order of DeMolay, and decided that they would start their own similar program but for girls.

At the time, it was vogue for such groups to have ceremonies of initiation as well as those which were followed to open and close their meetings. Thus it was a Methodist minister, the Reverend W. Mark Sexson, who wrote the ceremonies for the organization, basing them on the Biblical story of Noah, the great flood, and the rainbow of promise.

Each Assembly consists of 20 officers who include the president, known as the Worthy Advisor, and a set of four additional elected officers who, in succession, become Worthy Advisor. Additionally, there are a Secretary, Treasurer, Chaplain, Drill Leader, Musician and Choir Director. There are also seven officers who represent the seven colors of the rainbow and, finally, two officers who let people in and out during the meetings.

Fun activities such as a weekend at Potts of Gold – a Rainbow Camp on Hood Canal – make up the varied program.

For the record, I do consider myself an expert on the organization and was able to write all of the above without research. Even so, I was curious what the Infallible Wikipedia had to say on the subject. I discovered the following:

“The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls has Assemblies in 46 states in the United States as well as in several other countries. The states that do not currently have Assemblies are Delaware, Minnesota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The countries outside the United States that have assemblies are are Aruba, Australia (in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia), Bolivia, Brazil (in Parana, São Paulo, Distrito Federal, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins, Para, Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina, Canada (in Ontario and New Brunswick), the Philippines, Italy, Mexico, and Romania. Rainbow has had assemblies in the following countries, mostly due to American military presence: Cuba, Germany, France, Panama and Vietnam.

Its headquarters are at the International Temple in McAlester, Oklahoma built in 1950-1951 for the Order’s use.”

Over the years, the focus of the organization has changed. The early years were ones of expansion with the opening of more and more assemblies being the primary mission.

Community Service is a huge part of the organization’s focus. Here the girls’ are collecting donations for MEOW cat rescue.

By the 1940’s and WWII, the first indicators of a change of mission were seen with the members stepping up to aid in the war effort. After the war, the social aspects took precedence. The organization grew to its largest in the 1950’s boasting an international membership of over 250,000 girls. Today the group primarily emphasizes community service, public speaking, and personal development of the young women who are its members.

I became aware of the Rainbow Girls through my older sister who was invited to join by a friend. Off my sister would go to this mysterious place every two weeks and was often gone for activities on the weekend. So, like any self-respecting younger sister, I bugged her until she relented and brought home a membership application one day in March 1971.

It is a very distinct memory I have of sitting on the floor of my room, the sun streaming in the western window, as I filled out the paperwork. I was stumped when I got to the first blank.

“What’s the name and number of the Assembly?” I yelled to my sister in the next room.

“Yakima number one,” the shouted reply proclaimed.

Well, that’s cool, I thought. Who wouldn’t want to be in the number ONE assembly?*

I finished the application and it was turned in and then, one month later on April 19 I became a member. It was love at first sight. Everything about the Rainbow Girls appealed to me and played to my strengths (which were not sports, band, or wilderness survival!). It was Rainbow where I learned to plan and organize things; I loved being with just girls at a time in my life when boys were icky and awful. I got to hang out with older girls and adults who were patient in teaching me how to be a valuable member of a team. I had activities that were wholesome. Mostly, I seized every opportunity to improve myself, take on responsibility, and learn to be a leader.

In January of 1974 I was my Assembly’s Worthy Advisor and then repeated that job when one of the members had to step down in May 1975. I supported my sister when she became the president – the Grand Worthy Advisor – of the state level program for Washington and Idaho the next month. A year later I was selected to serve as the Editor of the jurisdiction newspaper and then subsequently elected to one of the top five jobs at the state level the next year, completing my time in the order.

My sister presents me to be installed as Worthy Advisor of Yakima Assembly #1, January 1974

Or so I thought. Over the next decades I found a multitude of ways to give back to the organization which gave me so much. I served as an adult advisor in a variety of capacities, motivated to insure Rainbow would be there for my own daughter when she arrived in those perilous teenage years. My stated mission was to successfully get her from childhood to adulthood in a safe place without falling prey to the many temptations modern society presents. In that mission I succeeded.

There’s a song which was written for the order and it has a line in it which is “Rainbow, you’ll always be mine.” For so many of the women I know who have belonged, this thought – more than any other – encapsulates just exactly how we feel about The International Order of the Rainbow For Girls.

My final meeting as Mother Advisor for Bellevue Assembly #120, January 2010

*Yakima was the first Assembly in the state of Washington, not the world. I plan to tell that story on August 3, 2021… so stay tuned.

A couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Order_of_the_Rainbow_for_Girls

https://www.gorainbow.org/

www.nwrainbow.org