Joan Dorsey
Contributing columnist
Fall and Halloween are upon us. Growing up here In Gardner fall meant football games and cool nights and Halloween.
Halloween was a big deal. It meant you got candy, from people you knew but some you only knew because your parents said they were okay.
More important than the candy was the dressing up. That was the fun part. My Mom, being the excellent seamstress that she was, could make me anything I wanted to be. The problem is, I wanted my costume to come from the variety store downtown.
I wanted a little cardboard box with a plastic mask. I think the name of the company was Ben Cooper or, according to the internet Collegeveville. Those were the coveted items in my age group.
You must remember that until we had Halloween (the movie) with Jamie Lee Curtis, our scary costumes were of a much tamer sort.
We had clowns, witches, firemen possibly even Casper the Ghost. Police, puppy dogs, nurses and such.
But what we wanted were those thin, satiny one piece costumes; you stepped in and a nice friend would tie it at your neck for you. The mask was hard plastic and very difficult to see out of. Plus, about five minutes into your trick or treat jaunt, it was full- on sweaty.
I can’t remember what my costumes were, but what I always wanted to be was a witch. I had vision of looking like the wicked witch of the West. Long black dress, hat, and scraggly broom stick. It still hasn’t happened.
I tell myself every year to start looking for all the components to the costume in midsummer, but I never manage to go find them.
Growing up in the Midwest, or center of the United States, we didn’t get to dress up or pretend to be something we weren’t. Not at my house at least. You were a school kid, hair combed, button shirt or dress and even petticoats for us little girls. Or you dressed for church. Or you wore slightly used play clothes for tree climbing or bike riding. No one slouched around in a dog suit or clown pants. Not unless it was Halloween. Then you could pretend to be whatever you wanted for just one day.
One candy filled, spooky day.
My Mom bless her, sewed the most wonderful costumes for my son. He had a Star Trek uniform among other things. I made my daughter’s costumes, and she remembers being a Monarch butterfly one year.
We had Halloween parties at school. We would walk from Gardner Elementary to downtown, and the parents could come watch the parade. One day a year people didn’t seem to recognize who you were. It was magical. A child could go from timid to outlandishly mischievous, all because of a plastic mask.
Years later when I worked at the big discount chain at 95th and Metcalf, the day after Halloween, all the little kid costumes would be marked down to 25 or 50 cents. I bought several dollars worth of those costumes. Of course by this time, they didn’t come in boxes; they came on cheap hangars and had a much more menacing look to them. I gave them away to kids I knew. Everyone should be able to pretend to be someone or something else one night a year.
Someday perhaps, I will be able to drag out the sewing machine and make wonderful little costumes for my grandchildren. I have the old patterns saved.
First of all I need to acquire the grandchildren however.