Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Halloween Costumes Over the Years

It's hard to believe it's already October. Being a native New Englander, I've always loved the change from hot sizzling, muggy, humid summers to the crisp, cool, chilly days and nights of autumn.

We kids would start planning our Halloween costumes as soon as school started in September. We'd start taking about it at recess, in the cafeteria and walking home from school. The first ideas were never the costumes we created though because we'd get other ideas from our friends.

When we were little our parents decided what we'd be and usually would make our costumes. There were costumes that could be purchased in stores but for the most part, our parents created them using things they found around the house.. 

As we kids grew older, we didn't want to be the typical pirate or princess. Our Halloween costumes were works of art. We made pirate swords out of folded pieces of aluminum foil. Mom would help transform a  piece of black shiny cloth into a vampire cape. No fancy store bought Halloween bags for candy collecting for us! We used pillow cases or paper bags. 

It amazed me that many times the costume fit the personality of the person who created it. It's kind of like when people say dog owners look like their dogs.. Really? I hope I don't look like my dachshunds! 

Some, however, didn't want to be different.

A boy in my class decided to be a hobo. As I look back on it, he was always a little disheveled looking and wore patched jeans to school. His make up was a smudge of charcoal on each of his cheeks (not the cheeks you're thinking of! LOL) and he wore a bag over his shoulder, that was a cloth table napkin. He found a black birch stick in the woods and carved it down so it would be the exact size he wanted. Anyone would have recognized him. His fashion statement wasn't to hide behind a mask or costume; it was to emphasize he liked being scruffy and was just enhancing himself to the MAX.

Another boy down the street dressed as a plumber. It was an easy costume because his father was a plumber so he borrowed a wrench, put on a pair of coveralls and a flannel shirt. No make up or smudges, just a baseball cap.


Then there were those who wanted to create totally different personas.  Secret, silent. The costumes took forever to create.
Total face masks and costumes that completely covered their bodies. Being behind a mask was more mysterious and gave a person a feeling of power in a way. People would ask "Who are you?" and would take guesses that were always wrong. The costumed kid wouldn't say a word and would silently slip away after he gathered up the candy.  His satisfaction being, that he fooled everyone. Sometimes even his best friends couldn't guess who he was.

Girls loved getting into their mothers' make up cases. They smeared red lipstick all over their lips but usually it ended up on their chins ...Dabs of red rouge, and dazzling mascara'd eyes. Gypsies! Dancers!  Long skirts and beads. Scarves wrapped from the front to back and tied. Ballet type slippers!

Their dreams of becoming actresses and models came true on Halloween night.

What do kids want to be on Halloween night these days! Zombies? Aliens? Super Heros? The costumes I've seen recently in the stores seem to be based on movies and books. Prepackaged, ready-to-wear costumes that require no creativity.

I'm glad I grew up in the creative Halloween costume era...

Those memories will never fade.

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