Hallowe’en: the Village, Valdemort, and a Video

Ten years ago grandsons Patrick and Curtis were one-year-olds at Hallowe’en. In October 2004 they lived far away from us in Chicago. Fortunately, their parents captured snapshots of them in costume, Curtis a pumpkin and Patrick, Tigger, both in store-bought outfits, unlike my own get-ups, which were always homemade as shown in my Hallowe’en post last year.

Curtis as pumpkin_2004_1000

Patrick_Halloween Tigger_2004_1031

Last weekend, among the children dressed as Muggles, Dumbledores, or Valdemort, Patrick and Curtis  chose to attend the “Harry Potter” Sunday Symphony sans costume. Only Curtis wielded a wand, which caused a wee bit of trouble amidst the spider webs.


*  *  *

Students at Rheems Elementary School grades 1 – 8, though familiar with Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Ichabod Crane” and perhaps Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” could not have anticipated J. R. R. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series.

Though Rheems was no School for Hogwarts, our village school had its own version of The Sorcerer’s Stone and the Goblet of Fire in the Deathly Hallows of the school’s basement, made ghoulish by the upper grades who created scary events with “eye” grapes in bowls, ghostly recorded voices among the hay-bales, and an illuminated skeleton.

Students raided closets and attics to conjure up costumes for the Hallowe’en parade, the culmination of visits to the House of Horrors in the basement of the school. My Mennonite aunt, also my teacher Miss Longenecker, initiated much of the fanfare that marked all the holidays, both the sacred and the secular. Here she has recorded our annual Hallowe’en parade, including the stumbles and falls!

Quote of the week by Erma Bombeck:

A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.

Your Hallowe’en memories — a scary tale? a memorable outfit? The conversation starts here.

Coming next: What’s for Dinner: Dried Beef Gravy and . . .


36 thoughts on “Hallowe’en: the Village, Valdemort, and a Video

  1. I’m back to receiving your posts! How wonderful and remarkable that you have a film of your own school Halloween parade!
    I loved all the photos, but the photo of the joyful pumpkin really made me smile!


    1. The movie clip is courtesy of my Aunt Ruthie who preserved this event long ago on film.

      Curtis has a joyful temperament and has always loved a good joke. As a two-year-old he would laugh when we said the word “dismissal” just because he thought it sounded funny.

      I’m glad you have solved the problem with WordPress notifications. Our connection is worth preserving too. Thanks for posting first thing this morning, Merril.


      1. Our girls also used to laugh at certain words they thought were funny, and I used to call my younger daughter “Smiley Pumpkin” when she was very little because she was always smiling. So we have another connection! 🙂


  2. Always so interesting to hear about Halloween. Here in South Africa it’s been catching on for a couple years already …. Is it something to do with All Hallows Day or something like? but maybe I’m just making it up. Some of those children would’ve scared the living daylights out of me …


    1. An early name for Hallowe’en is All Hallows Eve, a celebration of the souls of the dead including saints and martyrs. Wikipedia also mentions that the season was influenced by Celtic harvest festivals. In this country, it has become very commercialized, with lots of cash spent on costumes and decorations. Children enjoy trick or treating (gathering candy door to door) and carving pumpkins. Being scary – or beautiful – is the name of the game here.

      I’d like to hear about how South Africans celebrate the season, Susan.


  3. The movie clip had me smiling. I could see a few who only wore masks and I wonder if their parents knew they had those on. They all looked like they were having fun. I’m still laughing at the pumpkin boy. Too cute. Thank your Aunt for us for sharing. 🙂


    1. When I go back to PA in November, I want to take my computer when I visit Ruthie and have her look at the video she filmed in the 1950s. Though she has memory loss, Aunt Ruthie is still sharp about a lot of things, especially events in her past. I wonder now how she will respond.


  4. Marian — That a film clip of the event still exists is amazing to me! Clearly, it was great FUN for everyone to dress up, and what a VARIETY of costumes! I think I saw Pinocchio among them.

    I think the funnest part of Halloween for my sister and I was sitting on the living room floor once the trick-or-treating part was over, and then “trading” back and forth until we each had our preferences. Then our parents put our candy in separate Rubbermaid containers on top of the refrigerator and told us we could each have two pieces per day until it was gone. To this day, we’re pretty sure that our candy levels went down faster than two pieces per day — clearly mom and dad were sneaking it!


    1. Costumes back then came from a grab bag. You can be pretty sure none of them came from Target or any of the novelty shops that spring up this time of year.

      Your story of divvying up the Hallowe’en candy was intriguing. And your conclusion about your parents’ sneaking some bites? Well, I don’t know. I can see you two pulling up a chair and helping yourselves to the loot. Only you know the truth!


  5. Your grandchildren are so cute. Love the video I wish I could be there with you when you show Aunt Ruthie the video to see her face and hear her comments. She is a joy even with her state of mind, and she makes the visits fun because she has a happy attitude. I remember when my twins Linda and Gloria were 3 and Peter was 4. I had to explain Halloween to them because they had never gone trick or treating before that or seen trick or treaters because their father was overly protective. Well, it took a long time for them to understand. In PA, you only go to the homes with porch lights on. They were funny: one door didn’t open and Gloria looked in window said, “Mom, they are sitting and not opening the door.” At another house the lady gave spiders. Gloria said, “A Spider! Don’t you have candy?” lol.
    At another house Gloria liked their candy and wanted the whole box. I had to keep apologizing for them.

    When we got home my boyfriend came by in his police car to ask how it went. Then Peter came running out with pants down shouting, “MOM, the spiders crawl.” Running to see what he meant, Shanti my oldest atage 9 at the time read the wrapper which said “Wet the spider and place on wall and watch it crawl.” She did what the wrapper said and Peter who was using the toilet got scared and ran out. Too funny! We still laugh about it today. Thanks for your post.


  6. Your school offered much more creativity to students than mine. How lovely. Also loved seeing photos of your grandsons ten years ago and now. They keep us calibrated. The video is absolutely priceless. What an auntie!


    1. “They keep us calibrated” – that’s the truth, but I have never heard it expressed that way. I am happy to share the video with friends now. It seems to give the memory a second life.


  7. Loved the movie clip. Here in the UK, trick or treating has grown in popularity over recent years. We didn’t do it at all when I was a child. I find it sad when something fun becomes so commercialised.


    1. It’s nice to hear from you, Susan. I enjoyed reading about you on your own webpage today where you say writing is contagious and you “caught it from your teachers” Wonderful!

      And you have spent a lot of time in Germany, the land of the Brothers Grimm. No wonder you have chosen fantasy as your genre. Do visit again soon.


    1. Thanks for the kind words, Judy. You probably noticed my reference to a story you featured on your last post, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Today, several English professors were interviewed about the story’s origins and meaning on the Diane Rehm show (October 29). Of course, I thought of you. Transcripts are probably available if you are interested.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have 5 grandchildren between the ages of two years and 8 and it is amazing how fast the time seems to go. You have some great “Hallowe’en” memories. 🙂 The video is just priceless!


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it all, Patti – the photos, the video, all of it. Now is the time to make/record memories with our grandchildren as you well know! Thanks for visiting today.


  9. I’m impressed that you transferred the film to a format you could upload into wp. Wow! I agree with you. Such a precious “artifact” should be shared and enjoy a second life. Your grandsons are such handsome boys and back in the day made an adorable pun’kin and Tigger.


    1. My son Joel has a special program/application that he uses to convert from DVD to a format WP will accept, his services for our boy-sitting. I’m not at all sure it is an even exchange. Thanks for noticing. I’ll pass along the compliment.


    1. I know this is a time of mourning for you and your family, so when I read your comment, I thought of this verse from the Old Testament: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (King James Version)

      I’m so glad this post brought you some cheer today.


    1. There are more where that came from, Marie. I’m even planning for next year’s post, all with costumes that are homemade.

      We never bought ready-made outfits like kids do today. I’m told that in the US, Hallowe’en is an 8-billion dollar industry. And I’m certainly not bragging about that statistic.


  10. Halloween is not a good day for a birthday! Who wanted to celebrate one person’s birthday when it was time for everyone to go trick or treating? Since my birthday was on Halloween I felt cheated! But I loved going trick or treating! I was a witch every year because what else could I be? I wore a long black coat, a witch mask and a tall black hat, which I made every year. I have good Halloween memories, not good birthday memories! 🙂


    1. I’m not sure of the solution, Anita. Be a good witch and celebrate your birthday a day early, so it doesn’t interfere with trick or treating. According to your post this past year, Hallowe’en or not, the focus was on you and your birthday extravaganza. Again, cheers to a happy year ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

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