Horror Writers Association

Halloween Haunts: This is Halloween…in Green Brook, New Jersey by Jesse Rosenbaum


Well, I suppose I should specify that this is what Halloween was like for me in Green Brook, New Jersey while growing up in the eighties and nineties.  I have always had a connection with horror from a young age, two to be specific, when my parents, for some reason, let me watch the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, from Stanley Kubrick.  So, every year Halloween was a big deal for me.  It was a time to embrace my love of all things horror, whether it was campy or scary.

In elementary school, I remember being Dracula one year, Freddy Krueger another year, and a werewolf another, but my fondest memories of Halloween weren’t just the costumes.  My favorite memories were the events that would happen each year during the three years that I was in middle school, which was age ten through twelve for me.  On Halloween, we would go to school and by middle school, the Halloween costume parades in the school parking lots had stopped, but we all got to come to school in our costumes.  It was always so great to see what your friends would come up with and even some of our teachers would dress up as well.  The whole school was decorated and most of our classes and work assignments were all Halloween themed.  We would always leave school with some candy or other sorts of treats and glow sticks for nighttime walking safety.  The year I was a werewolf, I managed to put the glow stick in the mouth of the latex mask that I had, and it made it look so cool; at least I thought it did anyway.

After school was over, we would get on the school bus to head home and get ready to go out for Trick or Treating.  The school bus would always drop my older brother and I off several driveways away from our own.  We lived on an oval shaped development off the main highway, Route 22, in Green Brook and our development was just a big oval of houses, which was great for Trick or Treating.  Once off the bus, we would run toward our driveway then run even faster up the very steep driveway to our house, as we lived on an extremely large hill with a dense forest in the back yard, which as a child felt like we lived on a mountain.  Regardless, we ran up that driveway as fast as we could.

Once in the house, we would continue running upstairs to our bedrooms to drop off our backpacks and proceeded to remove the pillowcases from our pillows to use as sacks for the evening’s trick or treating.  I always dreamt of filling that pillowcase with candy as a child.  One year when I was twelve, I filled it a third of the way up and it was amazing.  We would then touch up our costumes and head out into our development as the rest of the kids were all home. At that time our street came alive with kids and parents all walking to one another’s houses to get candy.  Some of the houses were on very steep hills with long driveways like our own.  This would discourage some families and kids from going to those houses because of the long walk, but my brothers and I insisted on going to all of them.  No house was off limits.

After we finished our development, we would head home to eat something before my parents would drive us to our cousin’s neighborhood in the town next to ours.  One of my favorite moments of Halloween was when I would come home to refuel before going back out.  My mom would make us Chicken Noodle soup and we would put Halloween themed shows or movies on.  Every year I would wait for Mr. Boogedy to come on the Disney channel.  Just thinking about it now makes me feel happy and relaxed.  Afterward, we would head over to my cousin’s development, visit more houses, and get more candy.  When the night was over, we would head home, and my brothers and I would lay out our candy on the carpet in the family room while another Halloween movie or show was playing.  I loved when we would be able to catch the Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror episodes.  Then, we would begin the bargaining and trading for our favorite candies.

When the night had settled, I would be sitting in my room eating candy and watching horror movies.  Sometimes it was Friday The 13th, other times it was Tales From the Crypt or Creepshow or maybe even one of the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but regardless of what I watched, I would always end the night with candy and horror.  Now as a parent, my wife and I try to recreate these memories with our daughter.  Our daughter likes scary things too, we’re so proud, but she does scare a little easier than we did at her age, so the Halloween movies are a little tamer.  She loves Spookley the Square Pumpkin, Vampirina, and we always watch Garfield’s Halloween every year as well as Mr. Boogedy, which she loves watching now, just like I did as a child.  Thankfully, where we live, the streets are alive with families and children all out trick or treating.  So many of the houses in our neighborhood do a lot of spirited decorating for Halloween, which makes the night a sight to behold in so many ways.  For our daughter to have these experiences now, much like my wife and I did as children, it makes us so happy for our daughter to not only experience them and have these memories like we did as she grows up, but to possibly share them with family and friends of her own someday.

Halloween remains such an important part of my life because it allows me to revisit the memories from my childhood, which I cherish so very much, but to now also create new memories with my family and friends.  Whether it’s decorating the house, watching Halloween shows or movies, reading Halloween books with our daughter, coming up with fun and possibly scary costumes or trick or treating, Halloween is an amazing holiday to connect with other people from all different walks of life who share the same passion for the macabre and perhaps even a love of candy.  As we head into the Halloween season, I hope you all continue to create wonderful memories that you will revisit year over year and share your love of all things spooky with your family and friends.

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: Jesse Rosenbaum is giving away a signed, hard cover edition of, The Condemned.  Comment below or email membership@horror.org with the subject title HH Contest Entry for a chance to win.

Jesse Rosenbaum is a new member of the Horror Writers Association and just published his first novel, The Condemned, with Fulton Books.  The Condemned is a chilling novel that follows Michael and his endless strings of nightmares that horrify and push him to the brink. With each passing dream, he gets closer to the dark figure who has brought him to these horrific dreamscapes while seeking answers and unraveling the mystery of his role in this dark figure’s plot.  To learn more about Jesse Rosenbaum and his debut novel, you can visit his website or find his book, The Condemned, wherever books are sold online, such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books, Book Depository and many more.  More information about, The Condemned, can be here.

6 comments on “Halloween Haunts: This is Halloween…in Green Brook, New Jersey by Jesse Rosenbaum

  1. Pretty gnarly, I 100% identify with that. My Halloween experiences are among some of my most cherished. Growing up in Southern California my Halloween’s were always a little different, atmospherically, but still the best time of year. I’m really enjoying the classical feeling of this time of year up in Maine where I live now. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. This is rad–continuing the legacy! (My childhood Halloween memories are among my favourite…the smell of night-blooming cereus will always be entwined with Halloween and candy corn!)

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