Compiled by Kathryn Ptacek
For the last two October newsletters, I E-mailed HWA members who live outside the U.S. and asked them how Halloween was celebrated in their country, if, indeed, it was. It was all very interesting, I think, and I met a lot of people I’d never chatted with before. However, this year, I decided to take a break from that, but next year (yes, I’m already planning for the October 2020 issue! It’s never too early to make lists!) I might go back to that question.
This year, I E-mailed various folks and asked what their favorite memories of Halloween were, or what their favorite part of Halloween happened to be! I was practically dragging people in off the street to ask them about Halloween! Heh! Send those memories in, I said. And folks did. And here they are! I also asked for a paragraph or two, and some of the memories are a tad longer than that!
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Asking me to settle on a single, measly memory of Halloween is like asking me to name my favorite taco shop (I can probably get it down to a top ten but that’s pushing it), but here goes nothing. My favorite memory of Halloween is the specials!
Anyone who’s heard me pontificate on my influences for any length of time knows that I’m a huge fan of GARFIELD’S HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE. That, along with KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE and the Scary Stories books are my earliest horror memories. I remember ripping open the Sunday paper the week of Halloween, scanning the network listings to see what cartoon specials were spookily displacing their regularly-scheduled programming, and then circling them all with a magic marker so my dad would know what he needed to tape on our BetaMax unit (the last time he was ever an early adopter of anything—fool me once and all that). Garfield and his pirate ghosts were always a particular favorite—there are some legitimately great scares in there, from the opening scene with the unhinged and terrifying Binky the Clown to the King in Yellow-inspired fakeouts during the jazzy Lou Rawls number “Scaredy Cat.” And for my money, I’ve never felt quite the same flavor of dread as when Garfield and Odie are desperately searching for a place to hide in the old man’s house, knowing the pirate ghosts will be there any minute and there is nothing they can do to stop their return.
There were a bunch of other ones I loved too, from IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN to THE HALLOWEEN TREE to some of the stuff the Disney Channel reliably showed year-after-year: their eponymous HALLOWEEN TREAT AND MR. BOOGEDY (weirdly, the sequel, BRIDGE OF BOOGEDY, has a similar build to JASON GOES TO HELL, if I remember correctly). The best was going out trick-or-treating, coming back with a sackful of fun-size candy bars, and binging on both sweets and BetaMax-taped Halloween content until I passed out on the couch. Good times!
– Brian Asman
Fave Memory of Halloween
In 7th grade I borrowed a coonskin cap, wore my buckskin shirt and cowboy boots. I was Davy Crockett, “King of the Wild Front Deer” as the parody record went, back in the day. This was for a Junior High Halloween night at our school. I had a Bowie knife and an (empty) BB gun. Shocked? Naw, those were the halcyon days of the past. (sigh) That was my best costume ever, but the cap and jacket about killed me! Talk about HOT! Alas, today, we see no parades at school with students wearing costumes because of religious objections. Of course, no knives or guns. They even frown on art projects to do with paper pumpkin mobiles. (sigh) But at least I have my memories!
– Marge Simon
My fondest memory of Halloween is not very scary: Trick-or-treating for UNICEF. We had special cans in which we collected pennies, nickels, dimes from folks door-to-door, and they were very happy to contribute. This do-gooding generally lead to a special smile or piece of candy or both! Ah, the simpler days of the 1950s!
– Leslie S. Klinger
I have two stories and I can’t decide which one to send so I am sending both.
The first one is about candy. I am diabetic—diet controlled—and my grown son is overweight so the last thing we want is leftover candy. Okay, we do, but we can’t have it. We have a lot of kids in the area so we usually prepare about 75 bags. We have never used it all—close once or twice—but we usually have 20 or so bags left at the end of the night. So we invented something—The Last Kid Candy Dump Lottery. We always turn the lights off at 9. We aren’t like some of the mean people in the neighborhood—we give candy to the high school kids. Once the porch light goes off, we won’t answer the door. So we wait and see who will be closest to 9. We pick a kid and open the door yelling, “You won the Last Kid Candy Dump Lottery!!!” and dump whatever is left in their bag. They are always totally speechless but manage to thank us profusely. We LOVE to do this. It is never the same kid twice. Last year, it was three brothers—from about 6 to 12—and we divided it up. They were adorable, and the little guy went running across our yard screaming to his father, “We won the lottery!” We love answering the door all day long. We go outside and take pictures. I am always in a costume. We talk to the parents and gush over the kids’ costumes. But the Last Kid Candy Dump Lottery is our favorite kid of the day.
The second story goes back 10 years or more. My son owned a Sidekick phone and belonged to a world-wide group of Sidekick users. Every year for Halloween, they held a world-wide scavenger hunt. At midnight on the 31st, a list of 200 or so items went out to each person’s E-mail, and they had 24 hours to act. You had to take selfies with the things on the list for points. The list included visits to a grocery store, bookstore, video store (remember those?), and a lot of other things. We started with an all-night grocery store and drugstore and kicked a lot of things off right away. Then he had a 9 a.m. class, so I read in the car and waited for him to come out. We took pictures of him eating McDonalds in a Burger King and eating Burger King in a McDonalds. We got the WalMart greeter, a policeman in the station, and a fireman in the fire station. We knocked off Barnes and Noble, chasing down certain editions of books and went to Blockbuster. We started working on Halloween decorations—a giant spider, a pumpkin with three teeth. We planned on taking pictures of kids and animals in costume at home and then hit a couple of bar contests for the more “adult” costumes. Once every 30 minutes, we would send our pictures in to Scavenger Hunt Central, and our points would be added. There were five people total on the team all over the world. And just before midnight, our team won! The following year was my son’s turn to be Scavenger Hunt Central, and we had a blast making up the list and checking out all the pictures and awarding points. Sadly, our year was the last time they did it. I’d love to organize another one. Maybe for HWA next year? We went so many places and met so many people. Such fun!
– Charie La Marr
My favorite memory of Halloween was when my mom bought me The Wolfman costume and mask. The one with the face staring out of the plastic window and the cool designs on the box. I’d always have a plastic Jack O’Lantern to do my Trick Or Treating with, too.
– Brick Martin
A Nightmare on Russell St.
I love Halloween.
I mean sure, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re a horror nut, too, and you’ve got a soft spot for Halloween. But me, I just love it. And it’s not just the spooky stuff, the ghosties and ghoulies and long-leggedy beasties. I mean, okay yeah it’s—mostly—that. But what I really love about Halloween is the creativity, the “throw caution to the wind” attitude that it encourages in the most unassuming of folks.
Back in the early ‘80s, when I was 13 years old, I was just getting into special effects makeup and horror movies a little scarier than the black-and-white classics I’d been watching up until that year. I’d been reading this great book by Alan Ormsby Movie Monsters: Monster Makeup & Shows To Put On (purchased back when you could get really awesome stuff through the Scholastic Book Club) and was so looking forward to using his rubber cement and cat litter recipe to be the Mummy that year.
And then my parents told me in no uncertain terms that I was “too old to go trick or treating.” I’m sure you can all sympathize with the disappointment I felt there. So I decided that if I couldn’t go get candy, I was going to stay home and scare people instead. We were fortunate that my house had a flat roof, so I went up on top of the house with my buddy Alastair, made a sheet ghost, and tied it to a rope. Then every time someone would come to the door, my mom would hand them some candy, I’d scream at the top of my lungs and throw that damn ghost right at them.
Holy crap, that was awesome.
The next year, we upgraded the ghost. I put it on a pulley attachment, and tied it from the roof to a tree in the front yard. A fishing reel was the means of retrieval. For hours, I sat on the roof freezing my ass off shooting that ghost at people, then hauling it back up and having a fine old time. I started to realize that this is what Halloween is all about. Not dressing up and getting candy, but scaring the crap out of people, and them laughing about it afterward. It’s the one day out of the year when everyone is allowed to get a little mysterious and spooky.
This went on for a couple of years, the ghost improving slightly from year to year. But then around ’90 something interesting occurred. The neighborhood I grew up in is in Berkeley, Ca. A few miles down from the UC Berkeley campus, and fairly upper middle-class. Lots of college professor types, lawyers, doctors, those sorts of people. The kinds of people that you don’t often associate with Halloween shenanigans. But apparently the ghost caught on. Folks loved it, and suddenly other homes were decorating. And really going all out. Fog machines, strobe lights, life-sized hulking abominations lurking in the bushes.
At some point, Halloween became institutionalized in the neighborhood. I don’t know if it was when the neighborhood committee started handing out prizes for “Best Display” and “Most Political” and other esoteric categories. Or when the neighborhood was voted “Best Place to Go Trick Or Treating in the East Bay” by one of the local papers. But for better or worse, the Russell St. Halloween Street Party (https://archive.dailycal.org/article.php?id=107315 ) is here to stay. It’s now been going on for nearly 30 years, with police blocking off the street entrances and turning it into a walking plaza for the night. Quite literally thousands of people come to visit this funny little two-block stretch in Berkeley every year. I’ve heard that it’s even something realtors now have to disclose to potential house-buyers into that neighborhood.
But wrapping this up, what I said up above about loving the creativity of Halloween, that’s what this is all about. The Russell St. Halloween is a huge-scale look at what I’ve seen about Halloween time and again throughout my life. It’s that one day out of the year when it’s okay for everyone to be a little weird. That person who’ll tell you 364 days out of the year that “oh, I’m not creative” gets that one day to let their freak flag fly (even at half mast).
– Ben Monroe
When I was a child, my imagination overflowed, and Halloween allowed me an outlet to act out some of the scenarios I created within my mind. I could be anyone or anything I wanted to be and I could do so without repercussion of being made fun of or looked down upon. Growing up, we never had extra money to buy the best costumes, many times we barely had money to pay the bills. But on Halloween, all I needed was some old clothes, my imagination, and a little time, to make a costume. Focusing on what I wanted to be and how I would create the costume always took my mind off some of the stress at home. Unlike other holidays that seem so consumed with spending money, it just seemed like a happier time.
When Halloween night came, there were no set hours to trick-or-treat; instead, we started around dusk and stopped when we were too tired to walk anymore. We’d walk for miles, going door-to-door, sometimes the same house twice, hoping to visit the house that would give out full-sized candy bars. What I remember most about our Halloween parade was taking regular pillowcases out to gather candy and coming home with each bag nearly full of candy. Not only were my brother and I collecting candy, my mom (who was quite short) would come along as well and pretend she was a kid in costume. Once we arrived home, my dad would check the candy for poison and needles (taking those he deemed dangerous for himself) and giving the rest to my brother and me to devour over the next couple weeks. It wasn’t long until the sugar high dwindled and life’s stress crept back into the household. But during that short period of time, life seemed to take a more positive turn.
– Scott “Essel” Pratt
When I was young, the original STAR TREK was on reruns and it was my favorite show. On Halloween, I just couldn’t leave the house until it was over AND they were playing “Catspaw,” which is the one with all the Halloween elements. I also had a parakeet and a new reel-to-reel tape recorder. (Yeah, that’s how old I am) I had a great thought: why not tape the show?! I set it up and watched the episode, then went out for Halloween. When I played it back the next day, I realized that the parakeet, who was sitting with me on my mother’s hot pink bedspread, was attracted by the shiny metal of the microphone and was basically courting it by repeating every sound he had ever heard in the house with the backdrop of STAR TREK, I heard clearly every “pretty bird,” the barking of our terrier, and even my father’s voice yelling “dammit, Tricia!”
And then when my son was in middle school, he thought it would be a good idea to go out as a girl for Halloween, so he borrowed his step-sister’s cheerleading outfit, put on a wig and make-up, and went out with his friends. He was a beautiful girl in that outfit, and it worked too well. Other boys tried picking him up throughout the night, and some were not too subtle about it. He came home with a new insight into what pretty girls had to go through. I’m glad to say he learned his lesson, and now is a wonderful husband with two boys of his own. I wonder if I should show them the picture of Dad when they get older?
– Naomi Brett Rourke
My Favorite Halloween Memory
When you love Halloween as much as I do, it’s hard to pick out just one memory as “my favorite.” Trick or Treating/Gate Night shenanigans as a young boy; doing monster movie marathons with my friends every Halloween in my 20s. The crazy costumes I wore to parties in college. As a homeowner, decorating the house for Halloween and setting up my Halloween tree and Halloween village. Doing scary story readings for kids at the local library. It’s all so much fun. But to just pick one, I think I still have to go with the release of my first novel, Carnival of Fear. It came out on October 31 in 2010, and the publisher planned it that way because the whole book is about teens trapped in a haunted carnival on Halloween. Seeing that book come on on Halloween day was definitely the greatest Halloween of my life.
– JG Faherty
Halloweenie Time!: My Favorite Halloween Memory
I didn’t trick or treat much as a child. My parents knew the dangers of too much sugar. So, instead of going out, we stayed in and had a Halloween Party.
My younger sister and I dressed in costumes and played the games my mom created. One game involved tying apples to a broomstick with string. In order to win, my sister and I had to take one bite out of the apple, and we couldn’t use our hands to do it. We had a heck of a time. The apple kept swinging back and forth every time we got near it.
Just when it looked like no one would win, our family German Shepherd appeared. She took a big bite out of the apple and showed us how it was done.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get the prize. She didn’t have much use for Barbie clothes.
– Naching T. Kassa
Halloween. It has always been my favorite holiday, even if it’s not a “real” holiday in the sense of getting the day off. I remember the homemade costumes; one year I was a “vagrant,” dressed in my dad’s much-too-large clothes with a smudge of shoe polish on the chin that I was never sure if it was meant to be beard stubble or dirt. I remember wishing just once I had the nice and ‘way cooler store-bought costumes most of the other kids had. I remember running door to door, returning home to dump my load (my pillowcase) on the living room floor when the bag was too heavy, and racing back out to forage in a new direction. I remember the big Sorting, where at the end of the night you sorted all your “loot” on the living room floor. Anything homemade (like candy apples, caramel popcorn, etc.) was tossed out for fear it might be laced with poison or razor blades. Anything open or unwrapped was potential “needles and pins” hazards and also tossed out. (I’ve never actually heard of these things happening until the last couple of years with the proliferation of Internet news). What you didn’t like became “family candy” and whatever Mom wanted, she took in exchange for letting you go out. I don’t particularly remember anything but the vagaries of those Halloweens past, except that it was always the one stress-free just for fun holiday.
My real fondest memories of Halloween are as an adult. I love the decorating and the pure fun and silliness of Halloween without the pressure of gift giving, multiple obligations both wanted and not, and debt of some other holidays (which shall remain unnamed but live forever in the horror annals of a dark fiction writer’s memories). Taking the kids trick or treating, sometimes on the back of a hay ride wagon pulled by a tractor. Watching with delight while neighbors laid in wait to terrify the little trick-or-treaters. Making kids finish the song when they started their rendition of “Smell My Feet” and giving them extra candy if they did. I love to see the costumes, big and small, and what the too-big-for-trick-or-treating tweens and teens come up with for a costume. The bigger kids are always welcome at my house and get extra candy if they have the gall to come up with some kind of costume. My own kids were polar opposites, one choosing the girlier costumes and the other costumes like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a big eyeball, and Spiderman.
Perhaps my favorite Halloween memory is the year my youngest declared, “I want to be an old man with long hair and a beard.” And so she was. We went for the Prairie Dog Central Halloween Express ride on the Prairie Dog Central just outside of Winnipeg that year. There were my two, a witch and an “old man with long hair and beard.” The youngest was resolute in putting on her costume before we got there and refusing to show her face no matter how much anyone tried to see the little person under that mask. She declared, “No one will know it’s a girl!” And they didn’t. They tried and tried to convince her to show her face. She refused to even speak to not give herself away, communicating in only nods and hand gestures. She even snuck her lunch under the mask to not reveal her face while thrilling in keeping the big secret. The funniest part was the reactions when she finally revealed herself during the costume judging. Everyone just kind of assumed there was a little boy under the old man mask. They were shocked to find a cute little girl behind the crusty old man face, but they didn’t know my little girl, and she had the biggest grin ear to ear. She took first place, of course, although it may have been more how steadfastly she impishly pulled the wool over their eyes and pure eagerness in her trickery when she revealed herself than the costume itself. The costume was pretty cool too, though.
– Lori Gaudet
Halloween Memory: “The Dress”
This isn’t exactly a Halloween memory but more of a “mini” tribute for my high school junior prom dress, which I finally retired after a Halloween costume party that left me with a fun Halloween memory.
`At the time, it was a really big deal for me and my mom to get me decked out for my junior prom. We went to the store together, found the perfect dress, then registered the sale, so that no one else attending the prom would purchase the same one.
`My prom was glorious and everything I’d hoped it would be. But much like a wedding dress, what do you do with the “hoop” and the bundle of ruffles, lace, and satin afterward? This was the ’80s, so there weren’t charities set up like there are now for gently used prom dresses. Becca’s Closet is one of my favorite charities, and I often donate my formal wear to them. For example, dresses and gowns I wear to the annual Bram Stoker Awards® Banquet typically end up at Becca’s Closet. https://www.beccascloset.org/
As it turned out, my best friend had an impromptu wedding a few months after prom and needed a dress to wear. I was more than honored that she wanted to borrow my prom dress for her nuptials. It makes me so happy to see it in photos and know that it made memories for her as well. After her wedding, I got the dress back and stored it once again. A couple years later, I was asked to a military ball at Norwich University. I got to wear the dress again! The event was lovely, and I was so happy I didn’t have to go out and find a dress that would be appropriate for a ball. Many more years passed after that, and I’d graduated from college, moved across the country, and worked a few different jobs. That dress went everywhere I did and sat in the back of many closets. Then a good friend of mine was having a costume party and made wearing a costume mandatory. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money or rent something, so wondered how I could use that prom dress one more time. I went with a “Little Bo Peep” look, complete with a staff I made, a blonde wig, and a Lambchop hand puppet sewn to the back of the dress. It was a success, and I had a great time at the party. After that I decided the prom dress, which was still in great shape by the way, needed to be retired. So, I bundled up the hoop and the dress and donated them to a clothing thrift store.
That prom dress will always be remembered by me, and I hope that it continues to make happy memories for any and everyone who may have worn it since.
– Rena Mason
Favorite Halloween memory:
This one probably has little meaning/interest to anyone but my wife and me. It was 1983. Our daughter, Olivia, had just turned three on October 11. I can’t remember what costume she was wearing that year (Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, maybe). The weather in Detroit was lousy that Halloween—a lot of rain. Our nephew, Anthony, three years older than Olivia, was upset about the downpour, figuring it would put a damper (so to speak) on trick-or-treating, and Olivia tried to console him. In the process, his yellowish-furred dog (the particular breed I cannot remember) bumped into her and she fell. Indignantly, she told her aunt, “That big orange dog knocked me down.” (See what I mean? You had to be there, or had to be her parent.)
It did stop raining later that night. There was a fog and a mist in the air. And a full moon. I remember taking Olivia around the neighbor and marveling at/reveling in the atmosphere.
Favorite part of Halloween:
Our traditional annual viewing of Frank Capra‘s ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944), with Cary Grant and Peter Lorre (among others).
– Anthony Ambrogio
In 1994, I went to the World Fantasy Convention in New Orleans; if you don’t know, World Fantasy cons usually take place over the last weekend in October … Halloween, in other words. This convention was not only my second convention as a writer, it was also my first trip to New Orleans (a city I now love, by the way). Unfortunately, my second day there I got one of the worst flus of my life—felt terrible, high fevers, etc. Well, I decided that even though I spent much of the con sick in my hotel room, there was NO WAY I was going to miss Halloween in New Orleans, so I dragged myself out of bed, consumed two Hurricanes in order to self-medicate, and staggered through the crowd. I don’t remember specifics, but I know I had a great time!
Barbasol and Terror
The fathers always took us. That’s just how it was. Maybe the dads liked it more. Maybe they thought they’d get extra candy. Maybe that’s the way it was done in my neighborhood.
Regardless, most of my memories of trick-or-treating involve my dad.
One year, my older brother tried to argue that we didn’t need Dad to come with us. Only in elementary school, I wasn’t so sure I was old enough for that. Fortunately, my dad said no.
I was old enough, however, to be aware of the shaving cream wars my brother and his middle-school friends had been planning. I mean, he took the little white things off the top of any aerosol can he could find—how else could he make his Barbasol can spray farther?
The time came. Dressed as Wonder Woman? A princess? Madonna?—I honestly don’t remember—I was full of the usual suspects: nervous energy, excitement, anticipation, stomach flutters. What’s better than staying up late, walking the neighborhood in the dark … to get free candy?
We met up with Billy and Lisa—our best friends down the street (obviously not their real names)—and their dad. The night went as expected: we hit as many houses as possible (“Don’t go there. The light’s not on.” “But there’s a light in the window.” “The outdoor light’s off. Don’t go there.” “Darn it!”). We still scored tons of candy.
As the night wound down, we ran into some of my brother and Billy’s friends.
“Dad, can we hang out with the guys for a little bit longer?” My brother. He and Billy hadn’t even touched their Barbasol cans yet.
“Where are you going to be?”
“Just down the street.”
“Fine. Five minutes.”
And they were off.
“Can we go, too?” Lisa and me. Little sisters always want to be in on the action.
“Okay. Five minutes.”
Yes! We ran down the hill, hot on our brothers’ heels.
I’m gonna be honest, here: I have no memory of what happened between this moment and the one in the next paragraph. Maybe shaving cream was sprayed; maybe it wasn’t. Maybe they had their war; maybe they didn’t.
All I remember is the older boys.
Older than my brother and Billy. Bigger and scarier than my brother and Billy. They came out of nowhere. On their bikes, yelling and screaming. Chasing all of us. What did they want? The Barbasol? Our candy? Our fear? I have no idea. And in that moment, I didn’t care.
Lisa and I bolted back up that hill. The older boys got closer and closer; we ran faster and faster, feeling them on our backs, their taunting screams ringing in our ears.
I know writers shouldn’t say things like “my heart was pounding out of my chest,” or “my heart was in my throat,” but I swear to god my goddamned heart was in my goddamned throat.
I couldn’t speak, couldn’t scream. I could barely breathe. To my elementary-aged self, this was true and proper terror.
But without a word passing between us, Lisa and I knew our destination: our fathers.
I lost track of my brother and Billy. I lost track of time. I lost track of almost everything (not the candy, of course). The only thing that mattered was getting to the circle of safety—at the center of which was our fathers—before those boys could touch us.
And, thankfully, we did.
“Did you have fun?” The dads. They’d been talking, oblivious to our little nightmare.
I caught my breath and shrugged my shoulders.
Lisa laughed. I joined her, the warmth of relief spreading through my body.
The fathers always took us. And that night I was glad they did.
– Meghan Arcuri
Lesley Gore Had Nothing on Me
October 1981 – I was a Sophomore in an all-girls Catholic high school, dating a Junior from public school. There was an all-boys Catholic high school nearby, but those guys weren’t as much fun. And I couldn’t get past the school uniform; they had to wear a tie and blazer every day. Of course, I didn’t have much room to criticize since I had to wear a plaid skirt with knee socks. None of the guys in either public or Catholic school didn’t seem to mind …
I preferred the public school guys who wore jeans with band shirts (I loved Van Halen), kept their hair a little long, and like to party. And the guy I really liked was Kevin. I had been dating him on and off for about a year, and I loved him as much as a 15-year-old girl could love a boy.
My strict, born-again Christian mother hated him. I won’t deny this added to his charm.
I was looking forward to the Halloween party his friend had planned. Public school parties were fun since parents usually made themselves scarce. In the summer we would drink in the woods nearby, but it was too cold after that. And a Halloween party needed a place to play records and dance in costume.
Unfortunately, I messed up a couple weeks before the party. I got drunk with friends one night and got caught. For some reason, my mother hadn’t gone to bed at her regular time and was awake when I stumbled in.
Grounded for a month, no going out with friends, no dating, and NO HALLOWEEN PARTY. I argued, I cried, I begged, but she would not budge. I think she was glad to have a reason to keep me home for a few weeks, and especially keep me from seeing Kevin.
Those weeks were agonizing. I could talk on the phone, but nothing else. Right home from school. Only church on weekends. And I had to show her my finished homework every night. It was a nightmare.
The night of the Halloween party was awful. I pictured it in my mind all evening until I finally cried myself to sleep. The next day, even though it hadn’t been a full month, my mother told me I wasn’t grounded anymore. Coincidence, I’m sure.
A few days later, my friends and I were hanging at McDonald’s when a friend of ours took his break from the grill and sat with us. He pulled out an envelope of pictures of the party to show us. (Back then you had to wait for pictures to be developed, and hope they weren’t all crappy.) Now, I’m still not completely sure if this was deliberate or just clueless, but Kevin was in one of those pictures wearing a toga—making out with another girl!
I realized why he hadn’t called or stopped by my house, and why he was always “busy” when I called him. Teenage girls wear their hearts on their sleeves, and mine shattered that day.
I had some great Halloweens as life went on, but this one is probably my most memorable, even though not in a good way!
My best Halloween was in 1993, when I was 16. For the rest of the year, my friends and I were the weird kids who dressed in black and ran around the trailer park quoting horror movies. That Halloween night, we put on a performance for the whole neighborhood. One of my friends made scary noises with his guitar amp, another did spooky laughs and screams, a third was doomsaying about evil omens. I dressed in a torn sweater splattered with fake blood and gave out candy to the kids while yelling to an imaginary pet monster, “No, you can’t eat this one! It’s too small!” People were taking pictures; I even saw someone with a camcorder at one point. For one glorious night, the weird kids were everyone’s favorites!
– Joseph Vanburen
For a few years in early adolescence in Saint Louis, I made a horror scene in our front yard or front hallway every year for Halloween. I was no Rick Baker, but they worked okay. My last year doing it, c. 1975, I made a five-foot-tall guillotine (with body and decapitated head, natch) in the glassed-in hallway. Trick-or-treaters would turn a corner and walk up a short path to get to the door and ring the bell to summon my mom and her candy.
When I got back from trick or treating that night, Mom said they’d given away very few candy bars that night, because my guillotine scared everyone off.
I decided to end my FX career on that note!
A couple years earlier, my friends and I were out trick or treating and walked by the huge mansion on the corner of two major streets in our subdivision in Columbus, Ohio. There was a general rumor that the woman who lived there was mean and didn’t like kids, but all the lights were on and the four of us decided to give it a shot.
We rang the bell and a very nice older woman (maybe in her late 60s) answered the door, dressed nicely, like expecting company. She invited us in, to the largest foyer I’ve ever been in. On the right were several long tables with white linen tablecloths, holding silver trays of very nice cake donuts and large heated urns of apple cider (this was back when it was
cold out on Halloween)(and you would eat food at a stranger’s house). We ate and drank and talked with her. She said very few kids came by every year, and seemed thankful that we did. We didn’t have the heart to tell her the rumors. (I suspect her husband has passed away a few years before.)
I ended up moving to Saint Louis the next summer, but that woman’s generosity and joy at visitors always stuck with me, and I hope more kids gave her a chance the next Halloween. It taught me to not believe whatever the rumors were saying, but give people a shot of proving rumors wrong.
– Den Shewman