Monday, October 30, 2006
Halloween 1931--Part 1
In honor of Halloween, I offer you a two-part story written by my mom, Ruth Seamands, about one unforgettable Halloween during her teenage years.
"Ruthie, I suppose you're coming with us to the Halloween party at the church tonight?"
"No, Mom, I don't think so."
"Oh . . . I don't have any pretty costume to wear. I know some girls are going in sparkly dresses to look like princesses. They'll just stand around batting their eyelashes trying to catch a boyfriend. I don't feel like any competition."
"You don't need it anyhow," Art, my brother butted into our conversation. "You've got a boyfriend. Oops . . ." He put both hands over his mouth. "I forgot! Daddy doesn't know 'bout that. He thinks fourteen is too young for you to have a boyfriend."
Mom peered out the back door. "Daddy's out in the garden pulling up the tomato vines."
"Yeah, but my boyfriend's got a basketball game tonight so he can't come. I can always study. The rest of you go on to the party."
I don't remember what Art and Irene wore, but they both put on some outlandish outfits. And they pranced around the house with silly Halloween masks on their faces, making fun of each other as they went out the door.
I settled down at the kitchen table to study.
Ten minutes later lonesomeness surrounded me and there was no point to it. I'd go to the church party and make this a Halloween to remember!
Because it was cold outside, I put on three layers of pants, shirts and sweaters. Rummaging through the dresser in Mom and Dad's bedroom, I pulled out Dad's clean pair of long-legged underwear. He had only two pairs and changed once a week. In fact all of us changed our underwear only once a week, every Sunday morning. Saturday nights was bath time. We took turns in the round, tin washtub, and we each got clean water except when there was a water shortage.
Daddy was six-feet-two inches tall, so his underwear sagged and bagged on me. Even over all my other clothes. The drop seat settled comfortably behind my knees. A rope around my waist assured me that the high buttoned white cotton underwear was secure.
I wore my house slippers and over them put on Daddy's lace-up work shoes. Over and under the shoes I tied several rags around and around, then finally tied strings around the tops of the shoes to hold them on.
Snatching a medium sized brown paper bag from Mom's stash between the cabinet and the wall, I tried it over my head. Great--not too big, not too small. With the sack over my head, I marked with a crayon where the two eye holes must be cut, plus one nose hole to allow a little breathing.
Holes accomplished. With a black crayon and poor artistry, long, accentuated eyebrows, curling eyelashes, and a hooked nose appeared. A change of crayon and thick lips grinned fiery red. The top of the bag then acquired a man's head of black hair, swept back and fitted around very large ears. Looking at that creation nearly scared this artist into staying home.
No. Party called. So on went the paper bag over my head, tied around my neck with more string. Last of all, big garden gloves hid my hands.
I walked through Mom's bedroom to look in the mirror on the way out, and nearly collapsed in hysterics. No boyfriend would ever find out about this!
Now to confront the princesses!
Clomping six blocks to the church in men's work shoes size ten, took a lot of leg energy. The party hubbub could be heard a block away and it sounded like the whole town was there.
When I opened the basement door and lumbered down the steps into the crowd, a sudden respectful hush descended...
Read Part 2