As most kids, I loved Halloween. What child wouldn’t enjoy getting dressed up in costume and going out at night to collect candy from your neighbors? And maybe getting a little bit frightened along the way. However, the most memorable Halloweens for me were after the going out to collect candy era.
When I was getting a little too old to dress up and go trick-or-treating, my girlfriends and I thought it would be fun to host a haunted house…and my house was it. Candy was not handed out at the front door. The little children would have to actually enter the house and endure our “torture” before they received a piece of candy. This is something that I doubt would be allowed to happen today. However, this was about 50 years ago and that was another time…a wonderful time.
My friends and I taped many pieces of string to the ceiling of the front hall, so that those little Halloweeners would have to walk through a darkened entry and feel something that was akin to cobwebs brushing their cheeks. The entire first floor was lit only by candles. One of my friends played disjointed weird tunes on the piano. All of us were in costume that were either of a witch, zombie or vampire theme. As I escorted the children around the first floor, various of my friends would run past screaming or jumping out from behind a corner. One year my mother cackled behind the front door….she was an extremely good at cackling.
We did this several years in a row…and the best year was the year my sister, Mary, played the corpse. She agreed to lay on the dining room table, draped in a sheet with twisted candles surrounding her body. As was the rest of the first floor, the dining room was lit only by the flickering flames of the candles on the table surrounding her. An eerie sight it was. The children were paraded around the “corpse” as the last “event” before being handed their candy. Poor Mary was stretched out on that table for a couple of hours at least. I’m surprised she could walk after that ordeal.
Our haunted house was very popular in the area and one year it was even mentioned in the local newspaper.
In the decades that have passed between then and now, I have usually dressed up as a witch to hand out the Halloween candy. I remember when I moved to a new neighborhood just over 20 years ago. I didn’t have the traditional witch hat and black dress at the ready as I had just recently moved in. So I rubbed green eyeshadow on my face and drew lines with brown eyeliner around my mouth, eyes and across my forehead . I teased my hair out and thought I looked pretty scary. I opened the door to all the neighborhood children, many of whom were accompanied by their parents, and noted that many of them stared at me, most likely amazed at the spectacular make-up application. This was, for the most part, my first opportunity to meet my neighbors.
And then a friend of mine, a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while, stopped by with his little girl. I invited them in and we chatted in the kitchen for a bit. I could see that he was really looking at me…I mean REALLY looking at me. He finally asked “Are you feeling okay? You don’t look so good.” I was surprised at his question and I responded “I’m in costume here! I’ve got green face make-up on and lines drawn on my face. Do you think I really look like this?”
And then it dawned on me. If he, someone who knew me, thought I really looked like this, what did my new neighbors think? What an ugly old hag that woman is!
So, the following year I took no chances. I made sure that they knew I was in costume!