Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Memories -- Halloween

Halloween has always been one of those fun filled holidays for me.  I have always loved all aspects of this pagan holiday; the costumes, the makeup, the chance to be someone or something else for a day, and of course THE CANDY!!

I do not have any memories of my first few Halloweens, but family photos show I was dressed as some sort of strange baby in an oversize shirt and a paper hat at the age of one and as what appears to be a pregnant child at the age of two….not sure what that was all about.  At this stage of my life I lived in a very full house with 4 siblings, my mother, my aunt and boyfriend and a family friend.  By all accounts it was a crazy environment!
Halloween 1973

Halloween 1974

My own memories of Halloween begin when I was four years old.  This was the year that Star Wars premiered and of course my costume of choice that year was Princess Leia.  I recall sitting patiently in a green chair in our living room of our Center Road house as my Mom braided my hair and pinned the braids to my head as Princess Leia had worn hers.  I was so excited I could hardly sit still! 

When I was officially transformed into Princess Leia, I was sent out the door with my four older siblings, who had all choose to dress up as the rock band Kiss!  What I sight we must have been walking down the street and going door to door……….a mini Princess Leah and Kiss!!

When I was seven I was a 1920’s flapper girl.  I borrowed a blue sparkly dress from my teenage neighbor.  I believe it had been a costume she had worn in a school play.  This was also the first year I participated in an annual parade in my neighborhood. 

San Andreas Dr. was the starting point of the parade route and the parade marchers would turn on San Carlos Dr and head to San Ramon Way.  Our final destination was San Ramon Elementary school where the parade participants would take part in a costume contest.  Prize ribbons would be awarded to the 3rd, 2nd, 1st place winners along with one over-all 1st place winner.  The participants who did not place received a participation ribbon.  I got my white participation ribbon and was as happy as could be.

The next costume I recall was my Moms creation, or idea I should say.  I was in the 4th Grade and my mom thought it would be a great idea for me to dress up as Gandalf from “The Hobbit” and for my 2 year old nephew to dress up as Bilbo Baggins.  Oh My!  I don’t know if I can quit put it into words to describe this costume or the ordeal of actually having to wear it, but I’ll give it a solid try! 

The costume itself was hand made by my older sister, who was, and still is, a true talent with needle and thread!  It was made entirely of heavy blue felt.  I had a large blue dress, or gown, that hung down to the ground hiding my feet.  I had a rope tied around my waste, and a long blue felt cape tied around my neck.  Atop my head I wore a tall black hat, and attached to the hat was a long grey beard. A very long grey beard!  On my nose I wore an artificial nose made of putty. A very long nose!  The piece de’resistance was a long wooden staff I carried.

My nephew, as Bilbo Baggins, had a similar outfit made from brown, grey and green felt.  He was to wear shoes outfitted with large furry feet, which I’m sad to report he was terrified to wear!!!  Although, a more accurate description would be he was terrified to be in the vicinity of said furry feet!!

So, come parade day, I walked in the parade alone and in absolute misery!  Why misery you ask…..let me explain this horrible experience as best I can.  I must start by stating in the state of California we frequently have what some term “An Indian Summer”, meaning our autumns can sometimes be much warmer than our summers!  This particular October was one of those Indian Summer Autumns!  I was dressed from head to toe in a fabric not meant for warm weather, especially not in layers!  In addition to my smeltering outfit, I was forced to wear that horrible putty nose, which smelled so horrendously bad I cannot truly describe the sent! 
At this point I must inform my readers that I was a child who needed to wear glasses simply to see my own hand in front of my face clearly. However, my mother insisted I could NOT wear my glasses while in costume because Gandalf did not wear glasses!  So, I was sent off in the annual Halloween parade dressed in an outfit not fit for 80 degree heat, with a putty nose upon my face which made me want to gage, all the while not being able to see clearly two feet in front of myself!

By the time I reached my final destination I had a headache so bad I felt as if I were going to vomit!  I don’t truly recall the judging ceremony, other than clearly wishing to be anywhere but where I was at that moment.  By the time the judging was over, I did not even want to wait to receive my white participation ribbon.  I just wanted to go home and rip my costume off!  My mom insisted we stay for the announcement of the winners, but agreed to allow me to remove the offensive nose, hat, beard, and cape and to finally put on my glasses.  And so it was in this condition that I was called to the podium to receive my blue First Place Ribbon!   I can still hear the announcer saying, in a somewhat bewildered tone as I walked to the podium, what a wonderful “witch” costume I had on.  I’m sure the announcer was questioning the judges’ decision at that point! I ended up being Gandalf two years in a row and won first place both years.

The next costume I recall was a Hobo Clown when I was in the sixth grade.  This too was my mother’s creation.  I wore baggy overall, a large black coat with a flower in the laple and carried a large rainbow umbrella.  My face was painted with face paint with a frowning mouth.  The face paint meant I was not allowed to wear my glasses.
Halloween 1985

However, this time I did not have the added stench of a horrible putty nose, and this October was much cooler, so my walk in that year’s annual Halloween Parade was much more tolerable. And when I was again called to the podium to receive my First Place Ribbon I was truly excited!  As an added bonus, my stepfather, who had taken a photo of me, won first place in a Kodak photo contest he had entered the picture into! The photo appeared in our local papers and the photo was shown around the world.  Well, I don’t really know that part for sure, but one never really knows!
The Winning Photograph

The Hobo Clown was my last time participating in the annual Halloween Parade, but it was not my last time dressing up for Halloween!  In the years that followed the Hobo, I was a baby, a 50’s Sock-Hop girl with a pink poodle skirt, and finally Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. 

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