Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween to remember…


Halloween was always a great occasion at our house.  Mom almost always made our costumes and they weren’t the sheet with two eye holes cut out like the ones she had as a child.  Mom made tiger costumes with tails, bunny rabbits, witches and one memorable costume where I was Sylvester the Cat carrying around stuffed Tweedy Bird.  When my brothers were involved in Scouts and my father was the leader, Mom and Dad held a great Halloween party at our house.  I would love to say that my father participated in the creativity…but that really isn’t his thing.  On the other hand, my mother threw herself into the project.  Our basement was unfinished except a bedroom and piano studio where my mother taught voice and piano lessons.  Concrete floors and unfinished walls would make a great canvas for Mom’s creation.  I don’t really remember how she decorated except to remember her version of dunking for apples.  Mom didn’t want the water mess – so she hung the apple from string from the ceiling!  Her version of a haunted room…however, was special!

Mom wanted to make something really spooky that year…and what is spookier to a kid than something that looks like a coffin.  Mom found a mannequin which she dressed up as an old crone.  She contacted an old family friend who owned a Mortuary and got a packing crate that had contained a coffin.  Mom then set it up in the corner of the room with candelabras to lend the room a flickering light.  She then sat down at her piano and played several sorrowful like tunes to her reel to reel player.  Once she had done that, she slowed the speed down and produced some really spooky music.  Her stage was set!

My best friend and I were probably 7 years old…we were thrilled that we were going to be allowed to go into the room.  We didn’t want to be cowards, but it worried us to see the older boys come out of the room a little white faced and scared looking.  We went into the Mom’s studio and sat down on her piano bench.  The first thing we noticed was the music.  It was slow and spooky…then we noticed the candle light flickering on the dark walls.  As we sat there looking at everything around us – there was a creak.  It almost sounded like a door opening.  Our imagination took over and we frantically looked around the room for the source.  That was when we noticed the odd looking box in front of us and noticed that the lid was slowly being raised.  It creaked and groaned and we both sat there paralyzed – wondering what was going to come out of that box.  I don’t think we made it to the point where the witch raised up…we were out of there probably before the lid even fully opened.  We couldn’t take it and rushed out of the room.  The atmosphere even affected adults in that room.  My best friend’s mother went in and pretty soon we heard a voice ring out “If that damn thing comes out of that coffin…”

When the actual night of Halloween occurred…the coffin was set up outside the front of our house with the music ringing out from speakers in perched in the dining room window.  One of the older boys in the neighborhood wanted to operate the string that operated the lid of the coffin.  Back then…we would normally have well over 200 trick or treaters…that year we had very few.  They were all transfixed by staging of the old crone in the coffin. 

It has probably been close to 45 years since Mom and Dad had that party.  Every once in a while we still hear from one of those scouts now in their 50’s tell us that was probably the best Halloween party that they had ever been to. 

My 1st Halloween - My older brother and sister are entertaining me with their masks.