I love Halloween. I’ve always loved it, though I think it was a lot more special when I was a kid back in the 1960s. That was before people were too afraid to let their kids wander about after dark, dressed in weird clothing and begging for candy. Today Halloween is “safe” and “organized.” Not really to my taste, but I do have my memories.
By the time I started trick or treating in the late 50s and early 60s, most of us were buying costumes at the dime store. They were cheap, and you could “be” pretty much anyone. One year I was Lucy Ricardo. Looking back, I can see how cheesy the costumes were.
But go back even further, to the 1920s and 30s, and you’ll see that kid’s costumes used to be downright scary. The commercially made masks were constructed of a stiffened gauze with the features painted on. Above you can see a black cat mask from the 1930s. I found this mask, believe it or not, in the Goodwill clearance bins. Since then I’ve seen photos of the entire costume that includes a black glazed cotton jumpsuit and a white ruffled collar.
The costume was in a box like this one, only I do not have the entire box – just the lid.
Today all the photo sites like pinterest and instagram have been full of vintage photos of kids and adults in creepy costumes. It’s amazing how truly scary some of them are, all without the benefit of stupid fake blood. I never see these photos when sorting through stacks of them at flea markets, so I’m betting that they are popular with collectors.
In the good old days of the 1980s I collected Halloween decorations, but then someone published a book and the prices soared. I rarely buy anything to add to the Halloween stuff, but it is interesting that the last two items I bought were things to wear.
I recently bought this crepe paper party hat because it was too good a deal to pass up. Plus, I really, really like the pumpkin guy.
I spent some time on ebay today, looking at the sold prices of vintage Halloween collectibles. I only wish all the investments I’ve made in life were as good as the dollars I spent on Halloween tin and paper. And that does not even take into account all the fun I had finding my treasures.
UPDATE: My friend Amanda alerted me to a fantastic page of vintage photos of people in costume.