Jack-O-Lanterns and Homemade Memories

A DIY Childhood

007Halloween was a lot different back in the 1950s. For one thing folks used to give out a full size candy bar, not these 1/4 size treats you see today.

That’s not what I really remember though. What I remember most about Halloween was the planning. Planning on what to be. Talking over the ideas and options with your best friend on afternoons after school. Costumes were not purchased in those days but created. Rummaging around in the attic for some odd looking clothing or down in the basement painting cardboard and cutting out paper bags for instance. I wish I had a photograph of the year my friend and I made ourselves up as robots with tubular arms and  legs of cardboard wrapped in tin foil and a cylindrical head with wire coils and springs. Sometimes it would take a mothers skill at the sewing machine. I can still picture my little sister in her bright orange gypsy skirt and blouse with zigzag bric a brac, a bright kerchief tied round her head. The point is it kept us busy for weeks ahead with thinking of ideas, planning, hunting around for props, designing, constructing, making mistakes and starting over, seeing your inspiration take form.  The anticipation would build over the weeks not so much for the treats we could collect but to see the reaction on faces of neighbors and friends that special October evening well after dark. It was all a creative endeavor back then. The black construction paper bats we would cut out, the little ghosts made from scraps of cloth from an old pillow case, stuffing a shirt and trousers with Autumn leaves to make a mannikin. Carving a real jack-o-lantern.

Putting on a costume and adopting a different persona is and has always been fun. I just wonder if it has any meaning or lessons learned for children today when Mom takes them to the local Megalomart to choose a Chinese ready made outfit and plastic pumpkin to haul their loot. Maybe developing creative skills and building memories is old fashioned. Like I said Halloween was a lot different back in the 1950s. Consumerism wasn’t a life style then and living was more a hands on affair.

Happy Trails, Dohn

About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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5 Responses to Jack-O-Lanterns and Homemade Memories

  1. Heidi says:

    My kids are in this generation, and they are maybe at a disadvantage socially as I refuse to buy some overpriced crap. We scoured the local thrift in September and came up with nothing inspiring. On a whim they decided to be a vampire (mostly makeup and a cape made out of a black blanket to keep her warm), and a mommy (pushing her baby stroller and wearing my scarf as a shawl with a little blush and lipstick)- both were hits at a local gathering last week. Cost merely nothing as we didn’t buy anything new and all the other children who purchased a suit or something along those lines looked great too, but something about the heart of it was missing. I grew up also making every costume and there is a lot to be learned from the experience, as you mentioned of the moments it fails (to be done differently) and the excitement when neighbors and friends see your creative compilations. If only parents weren’t so consumed with consuming, they could spend more time spending time.

    • I agree Heidi. The creative spirit is best started with the young and will last a lifetime. I was able to teach my son that this years fad is in the corner of the closet by next year. Homemade has a lot of lessons you could never purchase.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! We had so much fun…but then we weren’t sitting in a dark basement/room alone playing x-box…killing people, robbing them and setting them on fire.

  3. Cathy says:

    We didn’t really celebrate Halloween in the UK, but Bonfire Night on November 5th was our chance to dress up! Shame we can’t turn the clocks back. I think kids miss out on so much these days.

  4. Exactly! The fun was creating the costume. We never had store-bought costumes either. It was great fun thinking about it, fretting, figuring it out. Too bad kids today have lost that it seems.

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