I’m not much of a cosplayer.
When I attend conventions, I never manage to think of a good costume concept for the inevitable Saturday night party, let alone actually pull one together.
But when I was a kid, I loved getting dressed up for Halloween.
The photo above was taken probably in 1979 or 1980, in front of my Grandpa John’s church – he was a pastor for the Disciples of Christ denomination – for the annual Halloween party there.
Back then, we had community parties like this, as they do today, but the actual Halloween night house-to-house get-as-much-candy-as-you-can thing was the main event. This was in the late seventies, just before the collective national freak-out about razor blades in apples.
We had one neighbor – local Tucson newscaster Bert Sass (I know, best porn name ever, right?) who lived on our cul-de-sac with his wife Sharon. She was a sweet woman who always treated us kids well, but she had one fatal flaw. She gave out boxes of raisins for Halloween. Nobody wanted healthy food on All Hallows Eve.
I remember too the chilly, blustery evenings that would usually come a week or two before the big night, and would usher in the holiday with an appropriate sense of creepiness.
“It feels like Halloween,” I’d say with a shiver.
One night, I was out with a couple friends collecting my quota of candy, and saw a couple older kids running away from a house carrying a pumpkin, flames shining through its carved eyes.
The teens smashed it on the street, and then took off laughing.
It still makes me angry to think about it. I didn’t understand why anyone would do such a mean thing. I fished out the extinguished candle and took it up the steps to the owners, and told them what had happened. They seemed grateful, but they probably had no idea what to do with this kid and the half-melted candle he’d just returned to them.
It just seemed like the right thing to do.
Okay, so I wasn’t your typical kid.
I also never understood why some folks left their porch lights off on Halloween night. I figured they were probably serial killers, or creepy hermits.
I miss that sense of the primal that I used to feel as a kid out late on a Halloween night, that feeling that there really were scary things out with us in the darkness, and how we would stick together and figure out the best places to hit to get the most candy. In the 70’s, our parents let us wander pretty much at will without supervision.
And then the gorging for days afterward on a pillowcase full of sweets.
So yeah, things are different now. But some things never change.
To this day, I love greeting kids who come to our door. Most years, we get no more than thirty kids all evening long, especially when Halloween falls on a weekday, like this year.
And yeah, maybe it’s safer to take them to organized parties at school, at church, or at the local community center. I get that.
But It makes me sad too. Something real has been lost. Those kids will never know the thrill of fear, the feeling of camaraderie, and the ultimate relief of getting home safe again with all your loot.
So happy Halloween, however you enjoy it!
And to celebrate, I’m giving away my Halloween short Gargoyle. I hope you enjoy it!