Thursday, October 2, 2008
The 1980's - The Dying Days of Halloween
It was the years before the fancy-schmanzy mass produced Jack Sparrow Wal-Mart costumes.
It was the years before every girl or woman was dressed as a slutty French maid or vamp.
It was the last years of those wax lips we always got as Halloween candy.
It was the 80's.
These honestly were the dying days of Halloween as it was intended, of kids going house to house collecting candies that were special and only found at Halloween: things like wax lips, and big lollipop rings, 'smoking' cigarettes (I say this with both nostalgia as well as incredulity), candy corn, real candied apples, little bags of kettle corn popcorn, Mary Janes, and those peanut butter things in the black and orange wrappers. It was an adventure to get home and look at the candy, unlike now, when all my kids get are one after the other of mini versions of ordinary, everyday candy bars. PHOOEY! Now what's so special about that??
The early 80's also signified the death of the homemade costume. Shortly there would be no more clowns or hobos or beauty queens. I actually go trick-or-treating with my kids and do not see a single home made costume aside from theirs (I am a purist still - oh, okay, I'm just a cheapo!).
What did this to Halloween? Part of it is that the first 'latchkey' generation of Gen X often didn't have moms around enough to have the time for costumes or real candy apples.
I contend, however, that the big event that seemed to change the nature of Halloween forever was the big Tylenol scare of 1982. After 7 people died from Tylenol laced with poison, what, moms across America asked, would prevent someone from doing the same to the Halloween candy?? This is just my stupid theory; if anyone has other explanations for the demise of the traditional Halloween, I'd love to hear it.
Nowadays, kids barely trick-or-treat at all. Instead, they go to organized functions at schools or churches. They go on hayrides or to organized parties. They go to 'trunk-or-treat' and get candies served out of the back of people's cars, so as not to do something HUGELY RISKY and intimate like ring a doorbell (I still like to go to the door with the kids, its fun to peek into people's foyers, hee-hee!).
They do everything BUT wreak havoc, get very bad tummyaches, and have one night to be able to face their greatest fears. This is a characteristic of modern America that I hate, the coddling of kids so extremely that they don't even have a chance to become brave by facing the demons inside (and, on this night, outside).
Now, to get to my point. What got me started on this is that a lovely reader named Cora was so kind as to send me the awesome photos you see above. The Ms. Pac Man outfit and the Smurfs costume just made me grin so big when I opened them in my email! They are awesome examples of what we don't see anymore at Halloween and are so reminiscent of the 1980's. Cora, by the way, has her own blog that you may enjoy: http://lovelettersbycora.blogspot.com
I wasn't actually trick-or-treating past 1982 or so. I guess you could say I had the pleasure to experience the the dying days of old fashioned Halloween in its last gasps before moving on to teenage pursuits. I don't believe I have any photos of my costumes back then, but I do invite you all to email me any photos you have of yourself in 80's inspired Halloween costumes (or, heck, in any handmade 'old style' costumes) and I promise to showcase them in my blog as I have done with Cora's. Send them anytime between now and Halloween to email@example.com.