Geri-Antics: The Ramblings of a Crazy Old Broad

Published 10:14 am Friday, October 19, 2018

As a kid in the 1950s, most of my Halloween costumes were handmade by my mother.

She spent weeks creating an authentic-looking costume based on whatever character I wanted to portray. I know there were probably manufactured costumes available, but I never had a boxed tissue-thin acetate costume and plastic masks like can be purchased today.

The boys usually dressed as one of their heroes — Superman, TV cowboys, firemen, policemen and doctors.

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The girls had their choice of many of the same Disney princesses who are still popular today — Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

Of course, there were also cartoon characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and all their character friends.

Ever the individualist, I preferred to have my mother design costumes that would transform me into a gypsy fortuneteller, a little hobo and even one time I recreated myself as Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame complete with bowler hat, a mustache fashioned from an old wig with suspenders and a massive belly of pillows. Which, by the way, persisted in falling into the legs of the pair of my father’s pants that had been tailored to fit my 11-year-old frame.

My mother always accompanied me on my trick-or-treat rounds, but it wasn’t necessary for security reasons as it is today. She merely reveled in my joy and she enjoyed chatting with the neighbors.

The treats handed out at each house were also homemade, such as cupcakes, candy corn, popcorn balls and caramel apples. Sometimes, the homeowner would invite us in for cider or Halloween punch and cookies.

There was nothing to fear, except the occasional make-believe ghost or goblin encountered on the sidewalks, and no one purposely set out to frighten the little beggars who came to their door.

Today, the costumes are manufactured with a focus on realism. The goal is to frighten all who encounter them.

Sadly, not only are the costumes of the children gory, but there is an ever-present threat of danger from adults with intent to do harm.

Gone are the days when a haunted house consisted of a group of parents wearing sheets with eyeholes cut in them. Or an extra-large dad with green pancake makeup and bolts glued to his temples pretending to be Frankenstein and his bride in her old wedding gown with her hair teased into a beehive and spray painted with white lightning bolts on the sides.

Nowadays, the steep price of admission will buy you half an hour of sheer terror as you are assaulted by Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers wielding chainsaws and hatchets and all manner of pyrotechnics and Regan McNeil spews pea soup your way as she levitates above her spinning bed.

Older celebrants of All Hallows Eve prefer to push the fear factor to the limits by spending the evening in abandoned Victorian mansions, vacated mental hospitals and other-worldly inhabited venues.

I’m proud to live in a town where the community and merchants want to keep our children safe and offer up treats and costume contests.

Anne Carmichael is a lifestyle columnist who submits monthly to the Jessamine Journal.