The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween Memories

          Halloween is supposed to be fun in the opinion of most people.  I spent several posts talking somewhat in depth about the Halloween economy, which I hope was of interest to some readers. Today I would like to take a breather before I get back to being analytical about Halloween. So hopefully I'll keep this post somewhat short as I share some Halloween memories.

          When I was very young I was not interested in quality or originality in my costume.  What I really wanted was one of those cheap prefab jobs that came in a box with the cellophane window on the front which made the costume visible. The costumes were flimsily made of some sort of light-weight fabric that usually had a sheen to it and had a screen printed decoration on the front to depict the character the costume represented.  The costumes were loosely fitted, one-sized affairs without buttons or zippers, but  ties at various strategic places to secure the costume onto the wearer. Included in the box was a cheap vacuformed plastic mask.  Overall the costume was pretty cheesy, but to me and my kid imagination I was authentically whatever the costume said I was supposed to be. I always begged my mother for a skeleton costume, but she must have had something against skeletons as never got to be one. The only prefab costume that I remember was in the third grade when I was a thug jailbird with a striped suit and scowling mask with a stogie in the mouth -- I guess I remembered this one because it seemed unique and was always my favorite.
           Starting about fourth or fifth grade I guess I began to realize how tacky and unoriginal those boxed costumes were.  I began seeing some of the unique homemade costumes that the other kids had and my imagination was no longer naive enougth to accept the screenprinted costume with the dumb plastic mask.  I wanted authenticity of chararcter.  My mother didn't have much in the way of sewing skills, but she would dig into the closets and find old clothes and accessories to assemble into something that worked pretty well as a costume.
            Halloween seemed to last for hours and I guess it did.  The event of the anticipated night was on everybody's mind throughout the school day.  Much of the day at school was spent on special Halloween festivities.  After school we would go home to have a quick supper, then return to school for the Halloween Carnival while there were still daylight hours.  When night came, my sister and I and a friend or two would set off on our trick-or-treating adventure.  We were fortunate to live in a very large subdivision where there were many houses.  By the end of the night we had very full bags of candy-- enough that would usually last until Thanksgiving.
           When I was in the 6th grade, my mother went into labor to give birth to my youngest brother on Halloween. My sister and I were left to our own devices to come up with a costume.  I'm not sure why we hadn't planned ahead-- seemed like it was often like that-- Halloween would just seem to creep up on us by surprise.  Undeterred we managed to come up with two of the better costumes of those years.  My sister dug out an old dance recital costume and went as a ballerina.  I cut jagged edges on an old pair of pants, found a white shirt with puffy sleeves in my mother's closet, added a hoop earring in one ear, made an eypatch, tied on a bandana, and drew on a mustache with an eyebrow pencil.  I must say it looked pretty good--better than those packaged costumes I would get when I was younger.  We both got a lot of compliments.  That was a good Halloween.

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