Halloween is Almost Here!

When I was a child I loved Halloween costumes so much that I had costume parties for my birthday in January. That way I got to dress up twice a year!

I don’t remember ever wearing a costume from a store and the few times I wore a mask I regretted it or abandoned it quickly. Even little half masks had a way of winding up stashed in a pocket early in the evening. Comfort and visual acuity always won out over the mask.

Over the years I’ve been a giant spider — with black, satin evening gloves stuffed with paper and attached to my back so that I had extra arms; a knight in shining aluminum foil — a good one, if a bit hard to walk in; a Renaissance minstrel — barefoot, with flowers in my hair, a long dress with a tight bodice and a lute strapped to my back; Ophelia — post drowning; and more than a few vampires.

Still my best costume came about when my plans went awry.

I can’t remember what I was trying to make, but it wasn’t working out. The picture I had in my head was not coming together as I worked for hours at the kitchen table and I went to bed in tears. I honestly don’t remember my age at the time, but I’d guess 8, 10 at most. I’d had a very ambitious plan, but…

My dad said he’d take care of it. And he did! He made one of the all-time best costumes. We still had a few old flour sacks around from my grandparent’s bakery. He turned one upside down and cut holes for my head and arms. He then copied, in crayon, the intricate, Indian-inspired elephant design from the Tetley tea box onto the sack; made a hexagon-shaped tag (a giant version of the real thing); and attached it with string to the sack.

I was a giant Tetley tea bag!

Of course my dad didn’t stop there. One of the original “Mad Men” of the ad world, he put the classic Lipton tea slogan on the back of my flour sack costume — “I’d Sooner Lipton.” It was a hoot! I wore a few times. Once when I was in high school. It was a totally cool costume.


  1. Obviously a very artistic family. My only venture into the costume world happened in the 80’s when men had fantastic platform shoes and I easily became a Frankenstein using green eye shadow all over my face and far too big jacket with Joan Collins shoulders.. My date at the time became a great headless woman with the help of a charity shop wedding dress and a papier mache balloon.
    I wonder what you’ll be this year. Perhaps I’ll do the same as you and have a fancy dress on my birthday in January. I can go as Janus by putting a mask on the back of my head.

    • Candy

      I love the Janus idea! Maybe I’ll do a split personality Jekyll & Hyde/Fiction writer & Freelance…. for my B’day. I haven’t had a costume birthday party in decades. If you do it, take lots of photos. I always regret being camera shy.

      Actually, with a January birthday, I haven’t had a party in decades. I’ve discovered that I must celebrate with fellow January birthday people in quiet ways — good dinners out, theater tickets, etc. As everyone else is still on their New Year’s Diet and/or paying off their holiday splurges.

      Oh, well… I’ve considered moving my birthday to May.

      The platform shoed Frankenstein must have been great. I hope you have photos!

      As for this year, I have an idea but I’m keeping it quiet until I pull it off. As I’m going to a Tango Dance that night I must have a costume that I can wear dancing. The Spider with the extra limbs was a tough one on the dance floor.

      Live & Learn…

  2. Patricia Salamone

    Many, many, many years ago, late 40’s into the 50’s a hobo, ghost, shoeshine boy. I should tell you we were poor, there were six siblings so what ever we could conjure up with materials that were available to us, which was mostly my father and mothers old clothing is what we used. It really did not matter what we wore the fun came from going door to door and getting the pennies and nickles and sometine even a quarter! No one gave candy in those days, but we used to collect at least a dollar each and that could buy us candy for over a month. I remember those day well and miss them. I am almost 70 now and long for times gone by, but I also look forward to the future because I know time marches on. :o)

    • Candy

      Capricorn, you?

      I know we’re on different sides of the world, so January is summer for you… but I’m not kidding about it being gloomy beyond belief in NYC. Over the years I’ve created traditions with other January b’day folks — just so we don’t get ignored.

  3. I don’t think I had many store bought costumes wither. It was much more exciting to make my own. My stand-bys were to dress as a punk rocker (ala Pat Benatar) or a hobo. Other years I would be a witch and once I came home from school and but dots of mascara all over my face. When every house I went to asked what I was, I told them I was a polka dot. I even went well into high school when adults would remark on how tall we were. By then I camp up with things like Gene Simmons make-up or Dr. Frank-n-Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture show. I haven’t worn a Halloween costume in years. Last year, I looked at a costume store, and the good ones were pretty pricy. Whenever I do wear a costume again, it looks like I’ll go back to making my own.

    • Candy

      The homemade ones are the best defense against arriving at a party and discovering you are a clone! Dr. Frank-n-Futer from Rocky Horror — now that’s a costume worth repeating!

      Any costume plans for this year?

  4. Metan

    Awww, what a nice dad, and a great memory 🙂 We don’t really do Halloween here in Australia, although it has started creeping in in the last few years. Mainly caused by the supermarkets not letting a sales opportunity pass them by I guess.

    • Candy

      I didn’t know that Australian wasn’t Halloween country? The sales opportunity — plus the scary movie opportunities — will catch you up. It can be terribly commercial, but the fun parts are real.

      Yes, it’s a great dad memory. He’s 85 now.