Posted tagged ‘costumes’

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen. Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2017

The wind and the rain have given way to a sunny day. It is a bit colder than it has been, 57˚ now and low 40’s tonight for trick or treating. I’m all set for my trick or treaters with candy bars for the bigger kids and Halloween pencils for the smaller.

I remember the excitement of Halloween when I was a kid. School lasted two and a half days or at least it felt that way. The hands of the watched clock moved ever so slowly, and the afternoon dragged on and on until the final bell was rung. We raced home. I’d spend the afternoon putting the final touches on my costume.

It took forever to get dark enough. My mother made supper earlier than usual. It was something quick, no big meal. She knew we didn’t want to eat. We wanted out. I remember driving her crazy by asking over and over if it was time. When she said yes, we bolted out the door.

We had a route based on our hauls from previous years. There were no fun size bars of candy in my day for which I am somewhat thankful. I say somewhat as people did buy bags of things like candy corn or those hard little pumpkins, and they’d divide the candy into individual bags of treats, not my favorites. We’d also get popcorn balls in the little bags. We knew the best houses, the ones with the nickel bars. Even now, when I drive down streets in my home town, I still remember which were the best houses on Halloween.

My mother bought us new masks. They were hard plastic and had an elastic in the back with a little metal piece on both ends which connected to the mask through a hole on each side. The elastics broke easily and got shorter and shorter each time we knotted them. The front of the mask usually had only eye holes. Some kids bought costumes which were worn over clothes and tied in the back. We never did.

My brother and I would stay out until most of the houses had turned their outside lights off. We’d check out our bags and munch a bit as we walked home. Once there, my mother would give each of us a bowl, and we’d sit on the living room rug and sort out the candy. We had piles. Our favorites were in one pile, the candy we’d never eat was in another and in the third was the rest of the candy. The good stuff went in the bowl. My mother never stopped us from eating the candy. I remember keeping my bowl handy under my bed. The candy never lasted too long.

I loved Halloween but not just because of the candy. Deciding the costume was fun. It took a long while even with hints from my mother. I’d choose one then a different one then another and another before finally deciding. We decorated the windows with those cardboard skeletons and witches. We carved pumpkins. We whispered about ghosts and witches and black cats to scare ourselves.

Walking home on Halloween night is one of my favorites memories. The sidewalks were covered with yellow leaves. It was quiet enough to hear our footsteps. The houses’ outside lights had gone dark. Only the streetlights lit our way. We whispered our conversation. It seemed right.

“There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.”

October 29, 2017

It rained earlier and it’s still cloudy and damp, but I don’t mind as we’ve had such lovely days of late. There is a high wind warning for all of tonight into tomorrow. Despite the damp, it will be warmish, in the mid 60’s.

Last night I watched Lady in White, one of my favorites this time of year. Despite no blood, no masked killers and no hatchets and knives, the movie is scary. The characters, including the murderer, are regular people living in a lovely small town. It is this ordinariness which makes what happens even scarier than watching a crazy man in a mask.

Tonight is game night with added Halloween fun. We’re going to decorate sugar cookies first. If that is anything like when we make and decorate our gingerbread houses, we’ll all be concentrating so much on our artistic endeavors we won’t be conversing, just decorating.

When I was a kid, we’d all be on Halloween countdown with only two days to go. Finalizing costumes and deciding our candy route were prime topics of conversation as we walked to school. Our costumes were always homemade, and my mother was imaginative. The only thing she bought was a new mask for each of us. We carried pillowcases as they had plenty of room for all the candy. My two sisters went out early and stayed in the neighborhood. My brother and I wandered all over town.

I loved movies which made me jump from something unexpected. It was sort of fun to be scared but the fun was mostly afterwards once our breathing normalized. When I was about ten, I was watching The House of Wax and got really scared when Vincent Price’s mask fell off his burned, scarred face.

I remember seeing Jaws for the first time. When Hooper scuba dives to look for the shark, he finds Ben Gardner’s boat. He and I both jumped when Ben’s face appeared out of a hole in the boat. I think that’s the scariest scene in the movie.

Afternoon football games on Sunday always remind me of my dad. He sat in his spot on the couch to watch the games. Right beside his spot was a table which was perfect to hold his game snacks or his lunch depending on the time of the game. He loved his snacks and he loved football. My mother and I didn’t watch and were usually at the kitchen table playing a game or two. We didn’t have to be with my father to know how the game was going. He was never a quiet fan.

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2016

I never understood why the nuns expected us to work and pay attention to lessons on Halloween. We were on a silent countdown to the trick or treat hour when our mothers would let us out so subtraction or English just didn’t matter. The challenge all day was to look interested without caring a whit.

We had chosen our costumes weeks ago. On the walks to and from school, my friends and I discussed the possibilities. The costumes would be homemade, and in those days they weren’t too sophisticated. We thought about being ghosts, but that was just too easy. A hobo was okay. We’d use make-up for a beard and carry a stick with a bucket at the end for our candy. Our mothers could sew patches on the pants and shirts. A scarecrow mostly just needed make-up and straw. With a few curlers and a robe, we could be our mothers or grandmothers. Paint a couple of pieces of cardboard, wear one in front and the other on the back, and you’re an ace or a two. Costumes just took imagination.

My mother would buy us masks, if we needed them, and trick or treat bags. Sometimes, though, we’d use pillow cases as bags hoping for a big haul. Halloween day was almost as long as Christmas Eve. We’d get dressed early and beg my mother to let us out. We’d keep watch hoping to see a trick or treater as proof it was time. Finally, my mother would let us out. We’d do the neighborhood first. It took a while as the neighbors oohed and ahhed and guessed who we were, as if it were difficult. After that, my brother and I would do the town. The 5 cent bar houses were our first stops. We hated the apple houses except the ones which put pennies or a nickle in their apples. I was never fond of candy corn or popcorn balls. We’d wander the town until the outside lights went dark. On the way home we’d go through our bags and eat a favorite candy bar or two. When we got home, my mother would give us each a big bowl for our candy. We’d sit on the floor and trade.

We could stay up late because the next day was a Holy Day, and we didn’t have school. We did have to go to church, but it was worth it to have the whole day.

After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers.

October 27, 2015

I see spider webs. That may not sound like much, but it means I am just about healthy again. It means the weird cleaning obsession is back so I have to stop and clean away the webs and dust whenever I see them. Already the dishwasher is filling with dusty votive glasses and chimneys. I’m even going to empty the dryer.

Today is much like yesterday, sunny and in the 50’s. We’ll have warmer weather later in the week, back to the 60’s for a couple of days. I love this time of year.

My mother always created our Halloween costumes. We never bought them ready-made. Sometimes, though, we’d buy a mask to go with whatever we were, but I never really liked full-faced masks. They were hot, and most times my eyes didn’t line up with the holes so I could only see half the world. I liked the masks favored by the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet, the ones where only your eyes were covered.

We used pillow slips to carry our bounty so we didn’t have to worry about paper bag handles breaking. Those were the days of red apples, popcorn balls and little tied bags with a few pieces of candy. I remember one red apple had a nickel stuck in it. That was a treasure. I never thought about the time that went into making popcorn balls. I was a kid. All I thought about was the candy.

Fun size candy bars didn’t exist when I was a kid. Now that’s just about what everyone gives. A few years ago I decided to give out what we called nickel bars. I remember how excited we were to get them, and how from year to year we’d return to the houses which passed them out. One was a red house with a huge porch. It was on Main Street right near my friend’s house. Two old ladies usually answered the door. They loved to see the costumes and always complimented us on how good and scary we looked. They gave us Hershey Bars every year. The red house is still there though now it is a business. I always think of those two old ladies every time I go by it. We were so excited to get those Hershey Bars. That memory so filled with delight had me switch to full size bars. The first year I did, a little girl was so excited she yelled to her father waiting on the street, “It’s a big bar.” I knew exactly how she was feeling.

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2014

I never understood how there could be school on Halloween. Did the powers that be actually think we could concentrate on arithmetic or geography? Our minds were filled with thoughts of trick or treating not multiplication or the exports of Chile. Time seemed to stretch forever that day. I’d look at the clock and when next I’d look only a few minutes would have passed since the last time. I gave thought to a trick of the clock, even a haunting, but it was just me clock watching and agonizing over the slowness of the hands moving from one number to another. Recess was all about Halloween. We’d be standing in groups talking about the night to come and the costumes we’d wear. The bell would summon us back, and somehow we’d survive the last part of the day without standing on our desks and screaming out of impatience and frustration. We always ran home.

The afternoon seemed the longest part of the day because we were so close. I’d put on and take off my costume like sort of a dress rehearsal. My mother made us eat dinner. We’d beg to go out trick or treating, but my mother said it was too early, not even dark yet. We’d stare out the picture window begging for darkness or hoping to see the first trick or treater so we could be next. Finally my mother gave in and off we went.

We’d do the neighborhood first, up the hill and around the cul-de-sac. That took the most time. Neighbors were chatty. Finally we’d break free and head down the big hill out of the neighborhood. We didn’t follow the same route every year, but we hit some of the same houses, the nickel bar houses and the houses which gave us pennies. We’d avoid the apple houses.

I remember walking on the sidewalks filled with the shadows of trees from the street lights. I remember leaves covering everything and a few falling as we walked. Houses had their outside lights on as a welcome to trick or treaters. We’d walk all over town filling our pillowcases. When the lights started to go out, we headed for home munching as we walked. The walk home was always quiet.

At home, my mother would give each of us a bowl for our candy. I remember the bowls were white and had tulips on them. We’d empty out our candy then we’d trade. We’d eat as much as we could get away with. I remember every Halloween as being glorious.

“We fetch fire and water, run about all day among the shops and markets, and get our clothes and shoes made and mended, and are the victims of these details, and once in a fortnight we arrive perhaps at a rational moment.”

November 1, 2013

Today is windy, dark and rainy and very warm. It should reach the high 60’s. Last night was perfect for trick or treating. The howling wind made the night sound spooky and leaves whirled in the air as if juggled by unseen spirits. It was warm. I had about fifteen trick or treaters who wore the best costumes I’ve seen in a while. One girl was an elf with all green make-up on her face and arms to match her green costume. The full size candy bars were a hit as were the wind-ups and bubbles. One girl went yelling to her parents that she got a big candy bar. Her father yelled, “Hello, Miss Ryan.” He was a former student and we chatted a bit. At one point I was trying to give candy to a large group of kids and Gracie almost got loose, but I grabbed her just before she could make her escape. She loved Halloween.

Last night I opened a window in my bedroom. I could smell the fresh air, and there was a small breeze. The night birds were singing then I heard a drop and another drop then a bunch of drops. It had started to rain. I listened for a long while. The sound of rain is one of my favorite of all sounds, not a howling, driven rain but a rain of drops plunking on the roof and the side of the house. I fell asleep to the melody of the rain.

Today is meteor day on the Syfy channel. The Earth is endangered in every movie. I’m watching Collision Earth. I had to laugh when the meteors began to fall. Two men started running as meteors were hitting the ground all around them. It was as if the men had been targeted by the falling chunks. They hid behind their car. It was a miracle: not a single meteor hit their car. Two college students were also miraculously saved. They ran, got in their car and clung to each other. Meteors fell all around them but missed them and their car. Another miracle! I’m guessing the Earth is not doomed. I’m thinking another miracle.

Gracie and I have a couple of errands later. I’d rather it be a sloth day but canned dog food is on the list to buy. Gracie thinks dry food is a treat. That’s my fault.

“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.”

October 31, 2013

It happened: my Red Sox won the World Series last night in splendid fashion. They led the whole game. I, however, still had clenched teeth until that last out at the top of the ninth. I was so excited I stayed up until after two and watched all the festivities. How could I not? It was spectacular.

The morning was sunny, lovely and warm but since then the sun has been replaced by clouds, and the day is getting darker. I don’t mind. Halloween should be dark and even a bit scary.

I can remember the Halloween excitement from the moment I woke up and remembered what day it was. Having to sit in school for so long was pure torture. At lunch and recess all we talked about was what we were going as. It was never what we were wearing. It was always what we were going as. We were, for one night, witches or ghosts or pirates. I can remember hounding my mother to let us start trick or treating as soon as it got dark. She always said it was too early. We’d look out the picture window hoping to see a trick or treater, a sign it was finally time. Some years my brother and I would go together. We were adventurous spirits who would roam all over town. I can still see in my mind’s eye the sidewalk covered with yellow leaves and here and there bright circles of light from the street lamps. The houses always had their porch lights on as invitations for us to stop. Those were the days of small trick or treat bags filled with individual candies. The lady, never a man, would come to the door, open it a bit and give us a bag from the pile on the table beside the door. If it was a neighbor, she’d try to guess who we were. It was never really very difficult, but the best neighbors always pretended it was. We’d finish the neighborhood then branch out to streets around where we lived then we’d even go further afield. I remember a house where we once got an apple, never a favorite treat, but it had a nickel pushed into the skin as the real surprise. Sometimes the candy bags had a penny or two, and back then pennies still had great value. As the night wore on, we’d see fewer and fewer trick or treaters and fewer lit houses. We knew then it was time to head home.

The haul was always important, but the best part of Halloween was being out at night when the shadows of bare branches looked like hands reaching out to grab us and when we’d hear footsteps behind us and be a little afraid to look. We sometimes scared each other, and I remember laughing while my heart raced just a bit from the fright.

We always walked home slowly making the night last as long as we could.

“October proved a riot to the senses and climaxed those giddy last weeks before Halloween.”

October 26, 2013

Today is Saturday, really bad movie day. I am watching Spaceflight IC-1 made in 1965. A spaceship with families, including children, is going to a new Earth with the original name Earth 2. The ship is enormous. The kids sleep in a huge room with bunk beds and a small classroom. They fall asleep to a holograph of Ho Ho the Clown telling them a story. The crew couples have individual rooms bigger than bedrooms in some apartments. Each crew member wears a tag designating his/her responsibility, just in case anyone forgets. They have a head in a box, an electronic crew member, and a few other members of the expedition who are being kept in stasis. Right now the doctor is telling his wife the doctor she has a pancreatic infection. Her response, “Oh!” I have little hope the rest of the movie will get any better.

The nights are cold. Last night got down to the low 40’s, and the house was chilly when I woke up. I turned on the heat. I guess we’re officially into the time of year when the sun just isn’t enough anymore. I’m wearing a sweatshirt.

Back when we were kids, we’d probably have spent this week figuring out what we’d be wearing for Halloween. Because we never had store-bought costumes, we had to rummage through our imaginations and the house for something to wear. One year my sister was a ballerina and wore a tutu she had worn at her dance recital, but it wasn’t as easy for the rest of us. My mother would sometimes buy us masks, and we’d build our costumes around them, but I never really like the full-faced masks. I couldn’t see through the eyes too well, and the masks were hot and I’d get sweaty. The Lone Ranger type mask was my favorite.

I really don’t remember many of the costumes I managed to cobble together. I know I was a ghost, a cowgirl, a monster with blood on my face and a hobo with a pack. My mother made up our faces, and I do remember hobo stubble. We usually had paper trick or treat bags but when we got older we went to pillow slips. The best part of the night was getting home, grabbing a bowl and going through my haul. The apples went into the fridge. We’d trade candy and eat as much as we wanted. We’d even stay up late as we didn’t have school the next day. It was All Saint’s Day though the saints took second fiddle. I have always associated All Saint’s Day with Hershey Bars and bubble gum.