Monday, October 15, 2007

Ghosts of Halloween - My 2nd Childhood

When my kids were much too young to go trick-or-treating I took one of their baby blankets and used a diaper pin to hold it at their neck for an instant ghost costume. We went to my mother's and I took BJ around to the people that still remembered me. It was a fun night and a way to not only show off one of my children but to reconnect to the old neighborhood. Being alone I thought that this would become an annual tradition for us.

Bean & BJ 1981

The next year I met John and our lives quickly changed. By 1983 we had moved into John's house in Pennellville, NY. There weren't very many houses on the street at that time so we went to John's cousin's house to trick-or-treat with her daughters. This year began the tradition of hand-me-down and homemade costumes.

PJ as a superhero, BJ not happy with his hand-me-down and Bean
as a Martian, the first of many costumes I made. 1983

In 1984 John and I married and I became a stay at home mom. With a bit more free time the quality of the costumes improved. We went to to Oswego, NY so the kids could trick or treat with their cousins.
front - Bean, Frank, BJ and Jean
back - Hugh and PJ
Clown and Cowboy costumes made by Apple 1984

Eventually more houses were built near us and John would take the kids trick or treating on our street. Because there still weren't very many houses the kids would get full size candy bars. In the summer I would start making little plastic canvas candy holders for all of the neighborhood kids. There were a couple of years that I dressed as a witch and sat at the picnic table in the front yard to hand out treats. My costume was a bit too real for some of the little ones and I'd have to take off my mask before they'd come into the yard. I always felt badly about that and wonder if it is one of their Halloween memories. The years that BJ and Bean were with my ex, PJ would either go to Oswego or with his cousins on his mother's side.

When BJ and Bean started school there was a Halloween parade at school every year that the kids looked forward to. We were also very involved with Camp Fire. In October each year there would be a fall gathering at Camp Talooli where we bobbed for apples, made nature crafts and took hikes.

Camp Talooli, Pennellville, NY 1987

Lahe Temelo, Camp Talooli, Pennellville, NY 1986

Every year the kids and I would decorate the house. Stuffed bats hung from the ceiling and cardboard decorations were placed in the front windows. Pumpkins were carved at the dining room table every year and placed on the front steps with candles. Costumes were planned and worked on weeks in advance. Many years I was more excited about the holiday than the kids were.

I don't know why we didn't take more pictures at Halloween. The ones here are the only ones that we have. In 1989 we moved to Akron, NY and while there I made some great costumes that I wish I had pictures of. There was the big felt snowman, stuffed with newspaper, that several of us wore over the years. One year BJ decided that he wanted to be Otto the Orange (mascot of the SU Orangemen) and I really outdid myself on that one.

After they had all left home Halloween lost it's magic. By then we had moved again and were living in a huge housing tract in Liverpool, NY. We spent the evening answering the door and not recognizing anyone other than the kids from the houses on each side of ours. We'd buy several bags of candy and turn out the light when it was gone. The dog would go crazy every time the doorbell rang and Halloween just wasn't fun anymore.

A Very Local Tradition
In 1989 we moved to Akron, NY. Being new to the neighborhood I was quite shocked and upset that our our house was toilet-papered on Halloween, the only house on the street to be decorated. It took days to get it all cleaned up. I had no idea why we'd be singled out this way. None of the other neighbors remarked on it and as I was still just getting to know people so I didn't bring it up. We were there for five more Halloweens and it never happened to us again but there were always several houses around town with paper hanging from every tree branch.

In 2002 we returned to Akron and I mentioned to a friend, who still lived on our old street, how hurt I had been that first year and how I thought it was awful that the kids got away with this prank year after year. I was quite unprepared for him to burst out laughing! There is a long standing tradition of papering the homes of the local school teachers on Halloween. Our first home had been owned by a teacher and the kids weren't aware that she had moved. The community saw it as harmless and no malice had been directed at us.

This is the second in a series of Halloween memories.
Ghosts of Halloween - My Childhood

No comments: