Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vintage Halloween Costumes & Halloweens Past


What do you suppose it is about these vintage costume pics that make us feel very disturbed? I think the movies "Trick R Treat" and "The Strangers" definitely gave me this feel.


This was back when kids could wear costumes to school and teachers would dress as witches and we would do every politically incorrect thing under the sun. My mother once even did a Halloween party for my older siblings at our estate. She put the children in black hooded cloaks, had them hold a dish with a candle and walk the long march under the dark wisteria arbor, down the gravel path to a part of the yard we called "The Pit." She had a stake in the ground with a witch effigy. The kids got to light the kindling and chant while it burned. She would so not be able to get away with that today.


It was always so blasted cold and we needed coats but refused to wear them. We carried pillowcases and knocked on doors until midnight, the official end of the door answering time. Yes, midnight! No parents, just lots of runs for miles around to every door we could race to. We never had our candy inspected. Somehow I survived, though I admit I never ate the candy cane from the drunk up on Sideburn Road. This man always had a party going on during Halloween and would open the door, staggering and say "Merry Christmas" and give us a candy cane. We weren't supposed to knock on his door (he was notorious) but we just had to see what the commotion inside was. Lots of martinis clinking in that house and drunken guests rushing the door to look at the "adoradabable" kiddies (hiccup).


I'm trying not to reveal my era too much, but I did Trick or Treat in a time when almost all costumes were handmade. I went most often as a gypsy, one time as a hobo and one time as Pocahontas. I still love the gypsy costume because I can have my curly hair natural and walk around barefoot while reading palms. People think it's part of being in character, but when I read them accurately, they kind of get spooked. That's what Halloween is about!


I'd like to collect these pics and more like them and make a huge wall arrangement in my writer's office. There is something eerie about creepy vintage dolls and vintage Halloween pics that will definitely incite me to write some true terror.


You might consider picking up some of the cues from these pictures for a Halloween costume that would disturb more than any Latex Pinhead mask. Sometimes, the rigged costume is the freaking creepiest. Just look at Michael Myers with mechanic's overalls and a William Shatner mask...

I remember as a kid spending weeks ahead considering the costume, beg, borrowing, rigging, sewing, gluing, and the day of Halloween, with the smell of chili cooking downstairs, the flickering Jack O'Lantern light casting shadows on my image in the mirror, I'd excitedly fix my makeup with my older sisters helping. It was the prom night for grade school!

**Tomorrow Syfy has a fun giveaway here on my blog!**

20 comments:

  1. Wonderful post Autumn! The old photos are amazing and creepy. Both Strangers and Trick r Treat I enjoyed because they touched on my childhood memories.

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  2. For some reason all those old school costumes look even scarier than the costumes they have today. lol.

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  3. Yeah, making the costume was half the fun. Even though I grew up during the heyday of the prefab costumes with those oh-so-dangerous plastic masks (and delicious vinyl smell--btw, delicious vinyl would make an awesome band name), I still remember making my own as I got older: vampires, werewolves, mummies... I was in love with the effects and makeup and costume. Sadly, I don't have any pics from all that. In all my photos, there is only one of me and my brother in those off the shelf plastic ones: he's Fred Flintstone and I'm a fireman. Suffice it to say, we were really little--had to be '77 or '78.

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  4. Those costumes look scary! I'd love to try them out!

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  5. They did have store-bought ones when I was a kid, but I don't know anyone who suffered with them, but honestly they did look scary. I remember on person's little brother went as spiderman and it was this very creepy thing with a sock like mask. For some reason, when I was a kid, hobos were a hugely popular costume--probably because they were easiest to make.

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  6. I enjoyed this post! That second photo is just adorable. The kids can't wear costumes to school where you are? They're still wearing Halloween costumes to school here in Wisconsin. Thank goodness...

    It sounds like your mom provided a really cool experience for your party. I'm sure everyone who was there remembers that night.

    Yeah, we of course had to wear coats over our costumes. Ugh. That ruins all the fun!

    I loved the story about the drunk guy giving out candy canes! Well, he was in the holiday spirit, anyway. Wrong holiday, but still.

    "Prom night for grade school" I love it!
    Yeah, I was pretty much planning next year's costume the day after Halloween...

    Thanks for sharing your Halloween memories ~ this was a fun one! :)

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  7. Justine; Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, they are very politically correct here and the holidays are allowed less and less in school. When my son was little, I made this box and inside of it was a bucket of green jello and embedded in that was toys and prizes. I put a lid on the box that was a huge paper maiche witches' nose, wart and hair and all. The kids had to put their hands blindly through the witch's nostrils to dig around in green jello to pull a prize out with each hand. It was an enormous hit at the school, but then as he got a bit older, they were less and less tolerant of Halloween. There's a lot of Jehovah's here and it became a bit of a battle.

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  8. Great memories! My mom always made our costumes and they were the best. We would grab our pillow cases and spend most of the night Trick-O-Treating, coming home with a full bag. I also looked forward to showing off my costume at school that day. Each class would parade through the other class rooms showing off our fun costumes.

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  9. Sis; we did the parade too! I loved it!

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  10. I doubt anyone here will the slightest idea what the hell I'm talking about, but one year I went as a "Bionicle". They were these six inch tall snap-kit robots from Lego, released in the early 2000's, with movable limbs. The whole gimmick was the "Bionicles" wore ancient looking masks that gave them super powers, and carried over sized blades. My mom made the costume, and it was comprised of PVC pipe, milk jugs made into a mask, foamcore board swords, and a chest plate. And duct tape. LOTS of duct tape. I felt superhuman walking around in that costume. Too bad it could only be worn once.

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  11. Love the older pics. Sometimes at yard sales and flee markets they sell older random pics would love to find some Halloween ones sometime.

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  12. Man, HN. I hope your mom got some great pics of it. My mom sucked at taking pictures. I have no proof of my awesome costumes.

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  13. SD77: I plan in my future home to do an entire wall of vintage costume pics like these and the old masks from the 50s/60s. What an inspiration as a horror writer.

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  14. What fun!! My son has his costume all picked out...he is going to be a zombie chef! I am pretty sure my daughter will be a cat. Again. I so love Halloween!

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  15. What a fun post. Went through a similar childhood and seem to have "survived" - I cannot remember the last time I saw a trick or treater at our haunt in a homemade costume....sad really.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers!

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  16. Great post; brings back a lot of memories. My mom made great costumes, too. We had a dinosaur that got passed around between siblings and cousins for years. We did the off-the-shelf stuff, too, and the weird thing is that, in retrospect, they were a lot scarier than they were supposed to be. I think when you take something like a superhero or a kid's cartoon character and try to represent it as a costume as cheaply as possible, the results are terrifying.

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  17. Scared: "I think when you take something like a superhero or a kid's cartoon character and try to represent it as a costume as cheaply as possible, the results are terrifying." That is so freaking true!

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  18. Wonderful slice of Halloween life you share with us here. Thanks, kid.

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  19. MM;
    Glad you enjoyed it. Hope you are enjoying that creepy Halloween mask I sent you. It had some very funny vibes.

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  20. You are provided a so many interesting for Halloween costumes.These ideas are perfect.

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