Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Halloween Edition

Greetings blog readers! On behalf of all of us here at VSA Texas, we would like to wish you a happy (and spooky) Halloween! Here are some of our fondest Halloween memories:

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! First of all because CANDY!! I love candy and I rate all of my holidays based on the opportunity for candy intake. So that puts Halloween at the top of the list. I also love dressing up for Halloween! I am a big procrastinator on getting a costume together. Last year I was making a mask out of a recycled cereal box an hour before the party started. This year, I am sure I will pull something together before the big day.

My best Halloween memories are of dressing up and going out to Halloween parties with Milton. As a big lover of anything silly, he really enjoyed coming up with a wacky idea and then I would get creative on putting it together on a budget. This was not always easy since Milton was over 6 feet tall and the outfits at the local thrift store never fit that well. But that one time he was Frankenstein, the suit being too short at the ankles and wrists really worked out to be an advantage. Here are some photos of our Halloween fun:
Milton and April dressed up as Aliens (but mistaken for bees)
Milton dressed up as Joey Ramone and April dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood
April dressed up as a Zebra and Milton dressed up as Buckethead

One year I dressed up as a care bear and this amazing photo (below) was born. As my aunt tells me I was crying "probably because your mom cut your bangs crooked. Seriously. You were little, tired, jonesing for candy and a tad bit overwhelmed. You wanted to get the show on the road already."
Janelle as pouty care bear beside Godzilla, the devil, and a bat, all carrying plastic pumpkins for candy

I hate to kill the mood of this blog, but Halloween is hands-down my least favorite holiday. Really, my issue lies with the costumes, be it picking a costume that everyone else has already picked out, lacking the resources or craftiness to piece together my own, choosing a costume I should have known would offend everybody (dressing up as a disabled Vietnam vet = terrible idea), or not being able to realize a costume that is actually comfortable to wear. That said, there have been a few Halloweens where I was proud of my costume and one where I even won a costume contest, when I dressed up as a box of Chinese take-out and gave out fortunes I made in my first ever wheelchair costume (comfortable? not so much). Below is a picture of another fond costume memory: myself and my friends Rachel, Kat, and Bry posing for a photo at a haunted mansion themed dance in high school. I believe the ladies are dressed up as a hippie, a fairy, and a vampire; I am dressed up as a bum sporting a classic fedora and an upside-down sign reading, "To Scotland."
Eric and three friends posing in their costumes before a haunted mansion backdrop at the high school dance

Recalling memories of Halloweens and trick-or-treating is rather sketchy. I remember I liked the candy but not having to work for it. When we lived at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn, I remember going to the apartments of people my parents knew, and there were always homemade candy apples, popcorn balls, brownies, sometimes fruit or chocolate covered raisins, but not much in the way of candy bars. My brother and I usually wore makeshift costumes from my mother’s closet since there weren’t any costume stores and carried brown paper bags for the treats. Still I didn’t like trick-or-treating because I felt like I was begging for food from strangers. So I quit going out and made my brother share his loot.

My fondest memories are of my dad when we moved to Austin. He loved greeting the kids and commenting on their costumes. He set a big planter shaped like a cauldron in the bay window at the front of the house, put dry ice in it, and placed a corpse hanging from a noose above the cauldron. Of course all the lights were turned off, and it made for quite a show. Today I enjoy going around the neighborhood where my niece lives with my great nephew in his homemade costume and watching the outdoor parties where kids and parents alike have really decorated their yards.

Here’s a picture of the costume I might wear this year, if I decide to roam the neighborhood:
Count Orlok, the vampire from Nosferatu

Halloween has never been a big deal for me. My mother was Canadian, so she thought the idea of dressing up in a costume and going door to door to beg for candy was just a ridiculous idea. So I only went trick-or-treating once in my life – that I can remember. My brothers and I did go to the Halloween party at our school one year. I wore my mother’s dark blue wool army nurse's cape, which dragged behind me on the floor because I was around 7 years old. I won a silver dollar. I don’t think any candy was involved.

So, fast forward a few years. I am living in New York City and I have met my wonderfully crazy friend Janet, who is all over holidays of any kind, and Halloween ranks right up there. We are going to our company’s Halloween party and she insists that we dress up. So, I give her the lead and just go along for the ride. She took my father’s formal dress tailcoat from the 1930s and covered it with glittered fruit cut from oranges, bananas, limes, and lemons. She created antennae from orange Styrofoam balls to affix to the top hat, and glittered red satin sashes with our names. So this is the picture: top hats with antennae, black tail coat covered with colorful fruit, a red sequin scarf for a very short skirt, and a glittered sash.. Voila! FiFi and FruFru, the Manhattan Fruit Flies! And yes, we won the costume contest.

Now, onward to Austin. My friend Beverly asks me to help her greet the trick-or-treaters every year. She always does it up nice. I dress in black, with spider webs in my hair, and wear the frog feet I got from my friend Ann. I put the candy in a big cast iron pot with dry ice, so smoke rises up. I reach into this pot to get the candy. A nice effect! Bev is cooking stew, so the kids are afraid we are going to eat them, thanks to a little acting on my part. On the porch sit several mannequins, dressed realistically, with dark shadows and eerie music. Four middle school boys come to the door and physically jump back when I slowly open the door. After getting their candy they slowly back away from the door and then turn and run down her driveway. I heard one say, “ I wasn’t scary at all.” HA!

Finally, the frog feet played another prominent role a few years later. I went with a friend and her 4-year-old boy to Boo at the Zoo at the Austin Zoo, wearing my frog feet because becoming an amphibian at Halloween just seems right somehow. So we arrive at the store/cashier and are waiting for the train ride to begin. I sit on the couch and lean by head back. Something is not right. I turn my head to the right and am eye-to-eye with a large iguana, who was perched on the back of the couch. Yep, eye-to-eye we communed, and I could tell that he approved of my feet. Just saying.

Happy Halloween everyone. Be safe out there, have fun, don’t get sick on candy, and above all, celebrate your inner amphibian!

What are your fondest Halloween memories? Tell us in the comments!

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