Thursday, October 31, 2013

A celebration of my mom, at Halloween

My enthusiasm for Halloween can be traced back to my childhood, which at times was a tough one. My father passed away when I was a young boy, leaving my mother to raise five kids on her own. I still can’t fathom how she managed, but she made ends meet, and was the glue that held our family together—in spite the enormous challenges she faced on a daily basis. She excelled as a single parent, and made damn sure her kids had the best childhood possible, despite our heartbreaking loss.

Part of my mom's weekly routine was spent in the basement sewing room, which was right next to the toy room—a storage space, built behind a stairway, that housed a treasure trove of toys going back twenty odd years. I have many fond memories of hearing the drone of the sewing machine as I played with the eclectic collection. This activity increased exponentially during the month of October, when she somehow found the time to make Halloween costumes—from scratch!—for her younger children. Every year she’d ask me what I’d like to dress up as, and since I never questioned her abilities, the sky was always the limit. My increasingly-challenging requests were often influenced by popular culture of the day—from Superman to Star Wars, and everything in between.

This was the 1970s, and even though mass-market costumes were becoming available for purchase, they were primarily made from cheap vinyl that fit over your clothing and barely lasted through Halloween night. Definitely not money well spent.

My mom’s creations, however, were something to behold, and often began with a store-bought mask—such as in this photo of me (c. 1976) dressed as the chimpanzee Cornelius from the Planet of the Apes film franchise. Aside from the mask, everything else was made by her; she was accurate down to the finest detail. And, because she’s the best mom in the world, she’d make a second costume for her, so we could be dressed the same when out trick-or-treating. These outfits were so well-made that they lasted for years, and were stored in what became the family’s “Halloween Trunk”—which meant we could play dress-up anytime of the year!

My own creativity and sense of imagination flourished during this formative period; I even tried my hand at making this homemade scarecrow (c. 1978), which sat outside our door on Halloween night. I thank my mom for instilling a love for Halloween, which continues to this day. Even though I may not dress up as often as I’d like to, or celebrate the event as often as I should, this time of the year always brings back great memories from my childhood.

Happy Halloween!

Note: this is an expanded version of a post that originally appeared on the Nights of Passion blog. In conjunction with my guest post there, my publisher is giving away a copy of Un-Dead TV. To enter the contest, please visit the blog and follow the instructions. 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely Brad. Thanks for sharing your memories, and opening up my personal remembrance of "Halloween's Past". What a different, and wonderful, time it was "way back then" :-)