Remembering 1970’s Halloween


A selection of little treat bags, circa 1970s

I’ve been traveling down Memory Lane lately. My Trick-or-Treating heyday was in the 1970’s…from ages four – 11. By the time I got to junior high, it wasn’t cool to trick-or-treat anymore, and we shifted to house Halloween parties or dances.

Not that we didn’t have house parties in those days, too. As I wrote about in a Halloween post last year, my mother made tons of homemade pizza and offered bowls of chips, candy, and cups of soda for some of our famed parties and haunted house in the camp each year.

AlcProfHalloween1Here are a couple recipes posted in an pamphlet, circa 1975. I might have to try making that cake!

brachs_12Candies like these were common, as were unwrapped sorts, like mallow pumpkins and candy corn, tossed in our trick-or-treat plastic pumpkins by the handful.

Ad from 1975I saw ads like this all the time. It’s amazing how prices have changed in just a few decades!

d0b361383f73f911b1b2002699b548b529795b7b54425e850af721b4394892e5cadb4969df31abfdb959395fc54d48c49080e724f2cf044bf66d75d25448221eThere was an abundance of Witch and other Halloween decorations that had a definite 70’s flair, though it was a favorite activity each autumn to pull out the colored construction paper and fashion jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, black cats in front of yellow moons, witches flying, and spooky trees – all of which were hung on the windows or walls in the house…

IMG_2596I had this exact decoration hanging in my home and probably another one just like it hanging in our classroom, on one of the windows.

witchBecause my mother hand-sewed all of our dance costumes, bedspreads, and curtains, as well as some of our clothes (which is a feat in and of itself, considering the time constraints in a household of nine, with three meals a days and loads of laundry that had to be spaced out because of the well water issues), some years we got to select a box-packaged, store-bought costume come Halloween.

830ee5b332a2f04d42b638374b695067On those special occasions, choosing our costumes at the local 5 and Dime was a trip much anticipated!

We’d get to wear our purchase, once for the school party and once for trick-or-treating. Then they were packed carefully away, since often, we’d have to go back to the old costumes and choose from them in future years; as an adult, I know that it must have been because money was especially tight on those Halloweens, but when I was a kid, it was just something that needed to happen periodically. We never complained.

BWx20x7ex202505_3LI had this “gypsy” one, one year.

ae3d182e66ce5a13357e59e893526f34My sister, who was always more “princess-like” than I was – beautiful, fine-boned, and blond – wore one very much like this.

I can still smell the plastic scent of the mask and feel the slight condensation from breathing through the always-too-narrow nose holes as we participated in the classroom party or  ran door to door Trick-or-Treating on a crisp Halloween night.

It was an innocent time, especially in my earlier years. The whole scare about razor blades in apples and medication or drugs tainting candy didn’t get started until nearer to the time I was getting too old to participate in candy-gathering…and of course home-baked goods were still always allowed to be brought into school for classroom parties and treats.

beistle-halloween-decoration-black-cat-moonAs the day approaches this year, I’m hanging some decorations and getting into the spirit, hoping to give some children the same happiness when they trick-or-treat at my door that I felt on those Halloween nights long ago. 🙂

Do you have any treasured Halloween memories to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

An Oasis of Tradition (and some Cathartic Pumpkin Carving!)

pumpkin 3 escape adulthood

Courtesy of

pumpkin 1 pumpkin2So this isn’t a generic pumpkin-carving post. It’s about how carving pumpkins, in additional to being entertaining and leading to some pretty cool jack-o-lanterns, can be cathartic too.

Ma with pumpkin

Ma, enjoying the process of carving out her pumpkin’s eye, LOL

Consider this picture of my dear, very sweet, normally-without-a-violent-bone-in-her-body mother about twenty years ago, when we were carving pumpkins out in the back yard. She’s having a good time carving her pumpkin’s face…and maybe getting out a little aggression too, LOL. My father is clearly enjoying the moment, too.

Pa and Mary with pumpkin

Me and Pa another year, with finished pumpkins on the front steps

Year after year, we’d all have a good time, and it’s an example of the kind of fun I’ve tried to create with my own kids as the years have passed.

Traditions are important. They provide a little bit of something to count on, year to year, when the landscape and the world keeps changing around us (as it inevitably does). We have these moments to recreate and fall back on, to re-center ourselves, bring us back to our roots, and reclaim a little of all the different times in our lives that we participated in them.

Of course traditions come in all forms, whether for other holidays, birthdays, or just things like apple-picking or preparing favorite recipes. Sometimes they are the bridge between people who have drifted apart, giving them a reason to reconnect.

pumpkin and mary

Me around 25 years ago, sitting on the top of the “school bus shelter” Pa built at the bottom of the driveway, kept company by a giant pumpkin and the little orange cat my parents took in

I love traditions, and I’ll probably be writing more about them – at least the ones I’ve cherished – in the future. But for now, since we’re at the end of October, I’ll stick with this one. Although time marches on, our traditions only have to disappear or change if we want them to.

What are some of your favorite autumn traditions, whether for Halloween or not?

The Pumpkin Farm Stand



Pumpkin farm stand on a gray autumn day


“No Spring, nor Summer beauty
hath such grace
As I have seen
in one Autumnal face.”

                               ~John Donne

Beautiful colors of pumpkin to choose from this year…we picked a couple of larger, dark orange pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, and I chose several of the smaller ones with interesting hues for our front steps.

With (American)Thanksgiving in November, we get lots of enjoyment (and decorating power!) out of the pumpkins…and as you can see from the photo, they are reasonably-priced. Even the big orange ones along the top were only $5.00.

Anyone else love visiting the pumpkin farm (or autumn stand?) I love seeing pictures of all the different ways the produce and items are displayed. Even with the season winding down, there is still so much to see and enjoy, and Nature sheds her colors in preparation for her long Winter’s sleep.

Vintage Ghosties…and the Power of Imagination

ghost vintage
A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.
~ J.M. Barrie
imagesTHYNH9HXI like this Barrie quote, because along with the descriptive aspect of “ghostly” elements, he also acknowledges our own mind’s power to frighten ourselves. I’m guilty of that myself: imagination can be a wonderful and a terrible thing. 🙂
When I was little, on nights when I’d spooked myself by reading my “Witching Hour” comic books or a spooky short story, I wouldn’t walk into my bedroom to climb into bed; I’d back up, run to the doorway, and leap from there into my bed, to avoid the “things” lurking in the dark under there, and to prevent them from grabbing my ankles.
skeletonWe’d also watch “Monster Movie Matinee” on Saturday afternoons, just before nap time (I’ll have to ask my mother why she allowed that, LOL). I recall one episode, called The Screaming Skull. After watching it, no nap was to be had, because my sister kept “seeing” the shadow of a skeletal hand moving down the hallway toward her bedroom and shrieking that it was coming to get her. 🙂
I’ve gotten better at managing my imagination, now that I’m older. Usually I can reason through whatever is spooking me…though I can still experience a shiver and freeze up with the feeling that someone (or something!) is watching me from the dark, if I allow myself.Vintage-Halloween-Pumpkin-Head-Image-GraphicsFairy
I’ve had a few ghostly experiences as well, in the old house we first lived in when we were married, but those will have to save for another day.
What about you – can you scare yourself silly…or have you had moments where you believe you’ve experienced something outside the natural world?

Vintage Halloween Post 1

CLX1007Halloween0010-de[1]I’m sure by now it’s no surprise that I’m a “vintage” kind of gal…not necessarily in my clothing or even in how I decorate my home, but just in general enjoyment. Collectibles, cookbooks, music, art, books…I like old things, or things that look “classic”.

When it comes to All Hallow’s Eve, I’ve always been fascinated by the old-fashioned decorations and illustrations that are out there.



Prior to the internet, of course, my exposure to these things were only through the occasional piece my parents had (similar to the paper mache’ cat head candy container pictured here).




Halloween+witch+owl+vintage+image+graphicsfairy8bWhen I was little, I loved to draw jack-lanterns. And big, yellow moons with witches flying across them. So illustrations like these, really tickle my fancy.5287ce33d06bd0637d1edd11a9dce24d








And then there are the spooky trees and houses.


There is just something about old Halloween illustrations that really captures the old-fashioned nature of the holiday, rather than the more current focus on fear, gore, and demonic stuff. That’s not my cuppa. Give me “old” All Hallow’s Eve any day. How about you?





Danse Macabre

Getting in the mood this Saturday night for All Hallow’s Eve, and since Danse Macabre by French composer Camille Saint-Saënsis is one of my favorite classical pieces of music for this time of year, I thought I’d share…I also fondly remember watching this accompanying PBS video in the 1980’s. Does anyone else remember watching this one (in elementary school, or like me, in high school…just because I liked it 🙂 )?