Thursday, October 22, 2009


From a poem my Dad used to recite

Halloween is next week, and the question is, “How are you celebrating Halloween this year?”

My first inclination was to say, “I’m not. I don’t plan on dressing up. The DH hasn’t been in the mood for going out on Halloween in years, and we don’t get enough Trick-or-Treaters to hardly make leaving the porch light on worth it.” That sounded pretty dismal to me, because I love costumes, and I love dressing up. The DH and I used to go out every year…

You know how I’m celebrating this year? I’m reminiscing.

When I was a kid, our costumes were all Mama-made. The boys were hobos and bums and cowboys. I was a gypsy every year that I can remember. I never got tired of it. I got to wear Mama’s lipstick and eye liner and mascara, earrings, and layers and layers of necklaces, and a big swirly skirt. Until I was ten, we lived in warm places, and in that innocent era, my brothers and I roamed wide through the neighborhoods. Our trick-or-treat bags were big brown paper grocery bags, and when they filled up, we’d come home and dump them I the living room floor, and go back out again. People gave full-size candy bars, and popcorn balls, and whole packs of gum. I don’t remember ever getting sick. I think Mama must have hidden much of the haul, and doled it out over several weeks’ time.

We got bigger and started making up our own costumes. One year, I stacked lightweight boxes on my brother Gary’s shoulder until they were level with the top of his head, and strapped them securely in place. He put on Dad’s old pea coat, and the boxes pulled the shoulders of it up high enough that the sleeves were the right length. A pillow on Gary’s chest made the stomach bulge where the coat “said” it should be, and a scarf over his head made him look headless, while letting him see. He looked great.

When I had kids, the fun really began. They were clowns in suits I sewed. A flapper girl. A Rubric’s cube made of a cardboard box with big squares of bright construction paper covered with clear Contac paper to make it shiny. A caterpillar, made with a velour tube dress I created, antennae headband, and a double row of baby shoes all the way down the front. A dandelion—yellow petals covering a knit cap, big green paper leaves that ran down the arms and legs, and a brown turtle neck and tights. A robin with a bright yellow cardboard bill, and yellow rubber gloves for the feet. The obligatory princess, tall, pointed hat and all.

I remember one year, the kids went to a party and took all three of the prizes for best costume!

I went to a party myself one year in that dandelion costume, my face painted, as I’d painted my daughter’s, to look like a lion’s. No one could figure out who I was, and I wouldn’t speak, so they couldn’t guess from my voice. Then I sat down, and one of the guys said, “That’s Anitra! I know that butt!” Can you believe?!

One year, when the DH and I were still dating, we went out country-western dancing for Halloween. He was dressed as a riverboat gambler, a dapper hat, like a stovepipe, but shorter and brown, charcoal satin stripes down the outside seams of his grey slacks, and a black ribbon tie. I had made myself a barroom gal’s dress, all raspberry satin and black lace, with fishnet hose and black fishnet, fingerless gloves, and a black feather mask. I was smokin’. We got to the bar where they were having the party and sat down, and had barely had time to greet our friends, when someone wild-armed the barmaid right behind me, and she dumped an entire beer down the front of my dress. I was soaked, and cold, and reeked of beer. My girlfriend, Jeannine, had a pair of jeans and a polo shirt in the trunk of her car, both two sizes too big for me, and that’s what I wore for the rest of the night.

Another time, I just vamped it up. I was single, and still in my thirties. I put on tight black leather jeans, a maroon satin and lace teddy, which I covered with a black ribbon-work shawl. My best friend, Alice, helped me do my hair and make-up. I even got myself some store-bought painted fingernails. Then I went, alone, to the bar where my dear friend, and former music partner, Paul, was playing. I joined the table where his wife was sitting, and when break came, of course Paul came and sat with us. I gave him a hug, and chatted, but he seemed oddly distant. I couldn’t figure it out. Then something was said, and his jaw dropped, and he said, “Anitra?!” He hadn’t recognized me, At All. That was sweet, let me tell you. I wasn’t even wearing a mask!

I’ve been a witch to the DH’s warlock, and a belly dancer the year he was a Chinaman in richly embroidered silk pajamas.

There’ve been years when we went Trick-or-Treating with the grandkids, too, and basked in the reflected glory of their cuteness. Haven’t done that in a couple of years, though.

But I think I will always love Halloween, whether we look like we’re celebrating it or not.

Hey! We have a ghost at this house. I’m serious. Maybe this Halloween we’ll just sit down and have a drink of bubbly together. Sure would like to know who she is….


storybeader said...

sounds like some pretty wild Halloweens. Hope you have a good one, this year... and find out who the ghost is!

Splendid Little Stars said...

I love your reminiscences! reminds me of my childhood. We always made our costumes. I was a gypsy often, too! We blackened our eyebrows with burnt matches. when I was in high school my friends and I went as hobos.
Your costume descriptions are marvelous!

TiLT said...

what great Halloweens! I'd love to see some of those costumes :) They sound great!

Made by Melissa said...

What exciting costumes!!

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

Sounds like fun times, you'll have to tell us about what you find out about your ghost :)

Mollye said...

I think I have been there with you all those years because you made the story as vivid and colorful as though I could actually see it and this my little lady is the true test of a really good storyteller. And you are one! Yay for Anitra. I was also checking to see how you did at the festival over the weekend. Hope you sold lots of "hand-did coffee folks" Oh also yay for me today as I sold three dolls in my Etsy shop. Happy, happy. Love the gates with all the glorious flowers at the top too. Ciao, Mollye

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