(Revised & updated 10/26/14)
I loved going to the stores with my dad and browsing through the Halloween section of costumes and decorations.
My favorite candy was, and still is, Brach’s candy corn and the mellowcream pumpkins. The best part was the sugary honey sweetness, I could eat a bag within days just on my own! These days, I eat one pumpkin and a few candy corn and I’m more than satisfied. That sweetness is too much for me now!
Kids costumes back then weren’t the cute and elaborate cloth ones of today. We had what can only be described as a plastic tablecloth dress or jumpsuit, usually with some funky Halloween pictures on it. Sometimes if you were lucky, it looked like what you actually were dressing up as.
The masks were shaped plastic that went over your head and secured with an elastic string behind your head. They were very rigid with creepy eye holes cut out, and if you were lucky, a tiny mouth hole. The masks were hot, itchy and never quite fit right; definitely not one size fits all.
As kids back then, we didn’t care. We were not the picky, snotty, snobby, entitled kids of today. It was Halloween! We wore our costumes with pride!
In kindergarten, I dressed up as Charlie Brown. I remember vividly seeing the costume and picking it out at the store. My dad argued with me, telling me, “That’s a boy costume!” I said, “No, dad, that’s Charlie Brown!” Basically, I didn’t care; I was a rebel even at that small age.
I loved Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and especially “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” To this day, it’s not Halloween until I see that on TV. I have it on DVD, but it’s not the same as watching it on TV, commercials and all.
Dad always got me ready for school and out to the bus. He worked third shift at Ford, so he would come home just in time to get me up and out the door for school. He would style my long hair up really cute, either in pigtails or swept back with those cute plastic barrettes.
On days when he had the time, he would pack me up a nice little brown bag lunch and draw pictures or write my name on the bag in markers and make it look fancy. I loved mornings with my dad.
When I was in first grade, dad took me to the store and let me pick out my Halloween costume once again. I think dad was relieved that I picked out a girls costume. I wanted to be a witch. No arguments there, we went right to the checkout line. I couldn’t wait!
As soon as we got home, I tore into my new costume so I could try it on. It fit, of course, even though Mom-ster said I was too “roly-poly” for the plastic dress. I didn’t let her words bring me down, secretly in my head I was turning her into a toad!
Dad suggested I go out in the yard and find a “magic wand”; after all, what witch didn’t have one? I immediately took my costume off and ran outside to find my wand. I kept picking up different sticks and “trying them out” until I found my special wand.
I came back inside and dad had put my costume back in its box and into a big brown paper shopping bag, on which he had drawn a big jack-o-lantern with my name over it. I was so excited!
I immediately put my wand in the bag and carefully folded the bag back down. Tomorrow was going to be the BEST Halloween EVER!
I got up the next morning way before the alarm went off. I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited! I got dressed quickly and went into the kitchen to eat my breakfast.
Mom-ster was up and was going to get me ready to go to school because dad switched over to day shift temporarily. It wasn’t as fun as dad, but he usually had everything all ready to go for me, so all Mom-ster had to do was my hair and get me out the door on time.
After I ate my cereal, I grabbed my Halloween bag, went into the living room and sat down so Mom-ster could brush my hair. I wanted to leave it down because after all, I was going to be a witch later that day.
She started brushing my hair. It hurt and I remember saying over and over, “Owwww mom that hurts, dad doesn’t do it like that.” That just made her do it harder.
I started crying as she was cursing dad under her breath. She smacked me in the arm with the brush; it was a round yellow plastic brush with bristles going all the way around it, so it stung a little. “If you’re going to cry, let me give you something to cry about!”
Mom-ster grabbed my Halloween bag from me.
I started crying harder, screaming, “No mom, that’s my costume for Halloween, give it back! Dad bought me that!” She yelled back that I needed to go outside before I missed the bus. She wasn’t letting me take my costume to school. I was so upset.
I went outside without my cool Halloween bag and waited in the front yard for the bus, crying.
To make matters worse, I heard Mom-ster bang hard on the living room window. I looked back and she had thrown my witch mask in the window in front of the shutters, so I could see it before going to school. That image is forever imprinted in my mind.
I went to school that day crying. When my teacher asked me what was wrong, I told her I forgot my costume at home and my mom doesn’t drive so I didn’t have one to wear. I knew better at that young age than to speak bad of my parents, so I lied. She told me not to worry, she would make me a costume.
When it was almost time for our Halloween party that day, my teacher took out the big roll of paper from the back room and had the class and I color it really nice. She cut the section off and taped it around my chest, like a dress, then made me a tin foil crown and a wand.
POOF! Like magic, I was now a princess!
I didn’t feel left out of the festivities after all. I was happy. I will always remember that teacher for her kindness.
When I came home from school, Mom-ster and dad were in the kitchen arguing, as was almost commonplace in our house. I had worn my awesome make-shift costume home.
Mom-ster was furious to see me all smiles and dressed like a princess.
Dad had my afternoon snack of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and glass of milk waiting for me on the counter. I sat down and started to tell them about my day, that I had told the teacher I forgot my costume at home and how the kids in my class and I made my paper dress.
Mom-ster stormed out of the kitchen. She tried to ruin my Halloween but didn’t succeed.
I finally got to wear my witch costume for trick-or-treating a few days later. I also wore my witch mask while sitting in front of the TV watching “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”
Looking back now, that has to be one of the best Halloween’s ever as a child, even though it was bittersweet.
The first, last and only time I was ever to be a princess.