Hallowe’en: a Scream & a News Flash

“Tick-uh-tick-uh-tick-uh-tick . . . ” The needle on my mom’s Singer sewing machine jabs the orange crepe paper as her feet mumble on the treadle. Usually the material comes from Mohr’s Fabrics in Lancaster or the Marian & Ruth Covering Shop in Mount Joy. She even uses printed feed bag for aprons or skirts. But today Mother is making an outrageously detailed Hallowe’en costume for me with orange and white crepe paper.

Color by the Magic Wand
Color by the Magic Wand

Hallowe’en was a big deal growing up. Every October the students in grades 1-4 in Miss Longenecker’s class and grades 5-8 in Mrs. Kilhelfner’s class skipped class for Hallowe’en fun. Blind-folded, we descended the cellar steps and guided by an older student stepped gingerly through a tunnel of hay bales to begin the scary trip through the fun house in the basement of Rheems Elementary School. Peeled grapes became the naked eye balls of the “remains” we touched. Instructed to blow a penny out of a dish, we proceeded through the maze with a flour-covered face. Then there were sounds of violence and a scream as we imagined mayhem. Finally, we took off our blind-folds to behold the fright of a luminous skeleton with moaning noises before mounting the back stair steps into the light.

And Hallowe’en night was even more fun. Often our outfits were home-made: a hobo or a ghost. But sometimes Aunt Ruthie went over-board with her other nieces, my younger sisters. One October 31st Ruthie created a yellow and black bee hive costume for cute little Jeanie complete with a stick she held with a wee bee bobbing up and down on the end. Janice was so jealous at having a plain old something or other to wear instead.

One year, the sisters put their heads together and decided to dress up our younger brother Mark, 12 years young than I. So we grabbed Janice’s navy blue gym suit with a built-in belt and legs that ended mid-thigh, a garter belt and nylon hosiery (Mom’s?) with my shiny, high-heeled shoes. So attired, we helped Mark navigate the 1/3-mile distance between our house and Grandma’s, where he was greeted with dumb-founded faces. “Where did this girl/woman come from?” they must have thought. In the end, the mask came off to gales of laughter. He was a SCREAM. And a good sport!

Generally, Mennonites in the 50s and 60s did not dress up or throw parties on Hallowe’en. I am certain our pastor, deacon, and bishop’s children did not ring door-bells bedecked in worldly costumes, collecting candy from neighbors. For sure, in a Church that “believes that wearing a necktie is a worldly practice,” fancy get-ups like these would be definitely frowned upon.* For us, though, Hallowe’en was such fun!

* Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church, July 1968, (21)

Pumpkin displayed at Landis Homes, Lititz, PA
Pumpkin displayed at Landis Homes, Lititz, PA

News Flash!

Upcoming Feature and Book Giveaway of Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels by Valerie Weaver-Zercher.

On Saturday, November 2, I will be featuring Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s Book: The Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels.

Here are the details:

WHAT:  An introduction to Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels: The author and her book.

PLUS:  One lucky commenter will win a copy of ­­­Valerie’s book

WHEN:  Saturday, November 2, 2013

WHERE:  Right here on Plain and Fancy Girl

And all you have to do is show up, read the blog post and leave a comment or pose a question..

The giveaway will close one week later on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at noon. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing. I will announce the winner here and by email.

I invite you to come by and enter. Feel free to invite your reading friends!

Today’s invitation: What are your childhood memories of Hallowe’en? What new memories are you creating?

Your comments are welcome. I will always respond.



17 thoughts on “Hallowe’en: a Scream & a News Flash

  1. Halloween has always been an issue for Christian groups, but children simply want to dress up and get candy. I think the modern day answer to this dilemma has been the term “Fall Festival.” We’re holding one of those this week!


    1. I think kids see through that euphemism for Hallowe’en. We do that at our church too. I just smile and go with the flow. Originally, the holiday meant All Hallow’s Evening, a tribute to saints, martyrs, and faithful departed believers, not devils or witches actually!


  2. My daughter has been taking the grandkids to many fall festivals this year. They will be trick or treating also, but Jalina can’t have milk or chocolate). I love the Jack O’Lantern with the hat.


    1. Your “I Married a Cereal Killer” was so funny, Laurie. What a costume!

      Thanks for commenting on today’s post. Yes, Mark was our pretend baby when he was small and guinea pig as he got older. He’s very mellow and goes with the flow fortunately.


  3. This is a jam packed time, full of celebrations that may tempt us to feel divided or very whole. I love the energy, Marian, you bring to remembering and celebrating. Here’s a quote from May Sarton: “What has been once so interwoven cannot be raveled, not the gift ungiven. Now the dead move through all of us still glowing.” (in “All Souls”) My new ‘plain’ interpretation of Halloween is: Our childhood costumes prepare us to keep glowing when we join the dead.


    1. I love the quote from May Sarton and the interesting slant you always bring to comments on my posts. (Incidentally, there may be a touch of humor you bring to that plain interpretation: I plan to enter the City of Lights when I die. A little more glow won’t hurt though!)


  4. What fun memories of Halloween, Marian! I can feel the excitement as I read your post. Halloween for me was a bit of a scary time having been so marked by one of my older brother’s friends. Buzz came over one night (not Halloween) wearing those crazy big black-framed glasses that have a huge nose and mustache attached to them. I was terrified of mustaches anyway, and I would not, could not believe this was my good friend, Buzz. Forever after I liked nothing that covered up its face! Although I do love your paper towel disguise. 🙂


    1. No, I have not seen this cover. I guess I’ll have to go to Riffle for a peek at the book cover. Or maybe Amazon or Goodreads! Thanks so much for the suggestion–and for dropping by, Melinda.


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