Halloween Long Ago

                                              My Scariest Costume
By Jeff Salter

Clear winner for the scariest costume I ever WORE goes back to the Halloween of 1979.  My wife was in the Junior Guild, which hosted a large part (if not all) of the Halloween Festival at the local high school gym.  My wife’s involvement was chiefly the ‘horror house’ … which occupied the entire, fairly spacious, back-stage area.  Naturally, I was enlisted to help.
I must have had my choice of spooky characters, because I ended up with one of the scariest — the Frankenstein Creature.  And I went all out.  I took a pair of my military boots and cut-out pieces of wood four-inches-thick … which I glued and taped to the soles.  Now that I had the Frank-Creature’s footwear settled, I borrowed a set of shoulder pads from the football coach.  The only thing left was the mask itself.
Nowhere in that small town could I find anything close to what I needed so I drove some 100 miles (round-trip) to a mall.  This is significant because in those days, every nickel counted and it was unlike me to ‘waste’ gasoline or spend fifteen precious dollars on a (non-essential) mask.  But I did.  I wanted to be the scariest Frank-Creature those kids would ever see in real life.
With my built-up boots, I was about 6’ 4” … with those shoulder pads, I was nearly three feet wide.  And, when I looked in the mirror, that mask scared even me!

a-frankenstein-4

Night at the Horror House
            Fast-forward to the evening of the Carnival.  It was warm and I was sweating like a hog inside all that clothing (and extra padding).  The mask made my glasses fog up, so I had to take them off.
Besides me, the ‘cast’ included a mummy, a wolf-man, probably a ghost or two, and a vampire inside a REAL coffin.  There was also a mock-up electric chair (with no power, fortunately).
A steady line of kids waited to get in, but only about half a dozen were admitted at a time.  As each group of kids entered the ‘horror house’ they would encounter a new monster at every turn of the twisted ‘path’ in that large back-stage area.
The youngest kids came with parents and if they got really scared – or began crying – we’d get out of character and tell them who we really were.  I even lifted my mask for at least one upset child.  But most of the kids wanted to be SCARED!
Most of us monsters merely stayed in-place for the younger children, but we’d growl, or reach, or do something especially spooky as the older kids neared us.  [We probably looked scary enough even without moving!]  As kids neared the vampire’s station, he would sit up in his coffin!  That was enough to send most of these groups on through the rest of the Horror House very quickly … many with their eyes closed.

‘Please don’t kill me!’
            But one particular group happened to be older girls.  I mean several years older than most of the kids we’d entertained.  These were clearly high school girls … all in a cluster.  For their special entertainment, the mummy moaned and moved … the wolf-man growled and lunged even farther than normal.  By the time they reached me and I stepped a few paces in those platform boots — one of those girls literally begged me, “Please don’t kill me, mister!”  Before I could explain that I was not the real Frank-Creature, but actually the county librarian, ole Dracula reared up in his coffin!
In their frantic effort to escape, those shrieking girls jumped over the coffin, causing the lid to slam down on Dracula!  The girls tore past the huge, heavy ‘theater’ curtain and hurled themselves into the concession area right in front of the stage … and a good four feet below.  They landed where the popcorn was sold … and freshly-filled bags went flying everywhere.
I was certain we’d never see them again.
All the commotion as those terrified older girls ran and screamed was terrific advertising — even more kids lined up and waited to enter our Horror House.
Funny that the oldest ‘kids’ would scare the worst … yet return for another dose.
Yep … that’s what I said — within about 15 minutes, those same girls came BACK through our Horror House!
My performance as the Frank-Creature has gone down in family lore.

Question:
What was the scariest costume YOU ever wore for anything related to Halloween?

Advertisements

About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
This entry was posted in Holiday, Jeff Salter, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Halloween Long Ago

  1. crbwrites says:

    How funny! I know your fate–but did Dracula survive?

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      It was my wife who recalled the part about the lid smashing down on top of him. We were both trying to remember WHO it was. But we couldn’t.
      Speaking for myself, if I had been in a REAL coffin in a spook house and somebody slammed the lid on me — whether or not by accident — I might have freaked.

      Like

  2. Too fun, Jeff! What in the heck is that advertisement video???? Anyways….I was a witch with a painted green face and fake nose with a big ole wart. It was fun!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Not sure what you mean about an ‘advertisement video’, Tonya.
      But be sure to post a pix of you with the green face and witch nose!

      Like

  3. jbrayweber says:

    Great story, Jeff!
    Being a girl, yep – I’m a girl – I wasn’t in to dressing up scary. I did, once go as a troll, complete with vinyl mask, but I didn’t want to do that again. Too sweaty, not girlish.
    I’ve been a pirate (no surprise there), a jester, Minnie Mouse, a widow, a boxer, Little Red Riding Hood, a gypsy, Zorro, and jail bait (yes, you read right), just to name a few. At *muffle, snerk,grunt* years old, I still love to dress up.

    Great post, Jeff!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      A BOXER, Jenn? You mean like the guys who beat each other senseless? Or the canine?
      Post pix of the gypsy and Zorro.
      I’m afraid to inquire about the ‘jail bait’ costume. LOL

      Like

      • jbrayweber says:

        Yes. A boxer complete with boxing glove and missing teeth. Got pix of that, none of the gypsy or Zorro that I care to share. 🙂 The jail bait costume was too much fun to put together. That same year, my hubby went as Peeping Tom. Loads of fun!

        Jenn!

        Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        Ha. Well, post any pix you feel can be shared. You have a few days left ’til Halloween!

        Like

  4. danicaavet says:

    I’m snickering. I never did scary costumes for some reason. My niece though, at only 10, has been a zombie, a princess zombie, a vampire, a pirate vampire, a zombie vampire? I don’t know. She loves horror movies and loves scary costumes although she did tell me she isn’t letting her dad put her make-up on this year since he doesn’t do it well.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      LOL, Danica. Dads are usually not adept at make-up.
      One of my grandsons is really big into costumes. This year is a pirate … but he’s been Darth Vader, Yoda, and too many others for me to remember.
      Hey, I’ve got a good costume for you! You could go as a Cajun Girl.
      Wait … maybe you’ve don’t that one already. Ha.

      Like

    • Louisa Bacio says:

      Danica,

      Hilarious that your niece has been all those “scary” costumes! Love the renditions. My 4-year-old asked her male cousins the other day if they wanted to play “mermaid vampire.” So there’s a new one for you!

      Louisa

      Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        Mermaid vampire? Wow. That’s pretty forward thinking. Might be a new cross-genre … like Steampunk-Cowboy.

        Like

  5. OMG that is HILARIOUS! You need to dig up a picture of that costume for us!

    We just went to a haunted theme park with five haunted houses that scared the bejeezus out of me, and had the line not been 45-60 minutes each (only enough time to visit once in order to see them all before the park closed), I’d have gone through them again and again. I’m not much of a screamer, but I was that night!

    I don’t think I’ve ever been scary. I went as Freddy Kruger one year – that was probably the worst of them – but I was about 10 and skinny as a rail. I doubt I worried many folks, LOL.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I wish I had a pix, Sarah. But I don’t recall anybody remembering to snap photos — we were all too busy getting ready for the event.
      Plus … I’d spent all my money on the MASK! LOL

      One year, at a county fair in Ark., I carried my young son through a ‘spook house’… and my bro-in-law carried HIS young son. But I would not have risked going back again — I kept banging into the walls because I had my eyes closed! Ha.

      Like

  6. Elaine says:

    Great post!
    Hmm…I never went for scary costumes (I’m very impressed you drove 100 miles to get material for yours) but I will say my *ODDEST* costume was when I wanted to impersonate Carol Burnett. I’d seen her wear “curtains” on a Gone-With-The-Wind spoof she did on her comedy TV show, and she had a rod with curtains hooked around her neck. Don’t know what possessed me, but I figured that would be a good costume one year.

    Ahem. Do you know how hard it is to fit in the back seat of a Ford Escort with a giant curtain rod around your neck? I looked ridiculous, but it was my costume and I was going to wear it. Needless to say, it made every task difficult!

    Since then, my favorite costume is to go dressed up as a bruise. I wear blue jeans and a black shirt. Black and blue, comfy outfit, but I can still be something!

    Elaine

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Loved that Carol Burnette sketch — a real classic. That took a lot of ‘brass’ to dress with a curtain rod! Ha. Yeah, I can imagine it would be difficult to do ANY thing. Probably coudln’t even turn around in most restrooms, for example.
      Now, dressing as a ‘bruise’ is a novel idea.
      I did a ‘hobo’ one time (as a grown-up). Don’t remember many others.

      Like

  7. Lois Grant says:

    Sometimes real life can be even scarier than costumes! I lived at an agricultural school later named Dean Lee Ag School which was later to become LSU-A. It was like a small village as there were anywhere from 5 to 7 families that lived there with kids. We would all trick or treat together. My brother was the ONLY BOY. The house where the Dairy Manager lived was set further apart from the other houses and we had to go by the fenced-in field where the dairy bull resided. Now that bull considered the fence just an ornament and he was known to knock the fence down and get out occasionally. My brother would go ahead of us and hide in the ditch along next to the fence and he would start bellowing at the bull to get him to come close to the fence and bellow back. All of us girls would try to tiptoe past the bull threatening to kill my brother if we could get our hands on him. As far as costumes went, we had home made hobo, scarecrow and ghost costumes with maybe a few just wearing a mask. That was before the days of buying elaborate costumes. We would end our trick or treating as someone’s house and have a bonfire and hot dogs. These are memories that I will always cherish. My brother and one of the girls has passed away now, but those days will live on forever in my memories.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yeah, Sug … we never had fancy store-bought costumes either. As a kid, the costume I recall the most was one I wore for at least 3 seasons (until I outgrew it). It was a ‘gorrilla’ costume which my Mom made from a burlap sack (very itchy) and it was accompanied by a cheap, flimsy mask which prob. costs 15 cents.
      I used to have a Davy Crockett costume also … though I don’t think I used it for Halloween. My mom made it from a pattern for boys pajamas … and added brown vinyl ‘fringe’ to the edges. Plus, I had a REAL D.C. cap with a coon tail !

      Like

  8. What a great story! I never enjoyed Halloween that much until I had my son. While I don’t dress up in anything scary, I take pride in being the scariest house in our complex. I purposely decorate to give the kiddies nightmares. Last year it was a bloody butcher shop. This year it’s a cemetary with a coffin and body parts, a hanging body and lots of blood. I start planning for next year on Nov.1st!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Wow, Tiffany … your house sounds like the place every kid would go to get the best candy … if they were BRAVE enough! LOL
      Decorating the entire house sounds like a lot of work … but I bet it’s a lot of FUN also.
      Can I presume you have people helping you? Or is it a one horse show?

      Like

  9. Laurie Ryan says:

    Hilarious. I’m picturing the popcorn going flying everywhere. It’s amazing how our imaginations can make us believe in just about anything. I don’t have a scary costume story, but love telling on my baby brother. We were twenty-somthings and at the same party. I had a full face mask “old lady” costume on and he was a little, umm, under the influence. He couldn’t figure out who I was, especially since I refused to “say” anything and drank through a straw so I didn’t have to de-mask. It drove him NUTS. I think he was actually flirting with me at one point. He was royally surprised when I let him in on the secret. lol

    Like

  10. Love it! Hilarious!

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a scary Halloween costume myself, but my dad used to have this half ghost / half Yeti mask that he’d put on when we were kids to scare the wits out of us. A few years ago, he found the mask and put it on to scare my brother, who was in his early 20s at the time. My brother got so freaked out! Lesson: if it was scary back then, it’s probably still scary now.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I don’t believe I’ve ever successfully scared our kids … but one time the kids and I scared my wife. We all hid in the closet when she was coming back home from shopping. She got really creeped out!

      Like

  11. Louisa Bacio says:

    Like many of the other women here, I never went for the scary costume. Always tried for something attractive instead. Waiting to see what my daughters choose year by year. My oldest is going as Draculara from Monster High this Halloween — but she’s still “cute.”

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Hmm. Maybe scaring folks is a ‘guy’ thing. I’d never thought about that before.
      So what were some of your attractive costumes, Louisa?

      Like

  12. Awesome story. I can totally see you going all out for it. It must have been FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Oh yeah, we had a blast. But it was a lot of work — both in the prep and during the evening itself. I was completely exhausted. Plus sweaty and dehydrated.
      But fun!

      Like

  13. This story had me cracking up! I laughed at the movie running in my head of girls screaming and popcorn flying! HAHAHAHA

    I’ve been a goody two shoes pretty much all my life so my Halloween costumes were never scary. I did win first prize one year at my school in Malaysia dressed up as a Balinese dancer…does that count??
    We never went trick or treating since we lived in a foreign country, the Ambassador always threw a great party. (Since there weren’t costumes for sale, most people came as is.)

    Like

  14. LOL! Don’t you wish you had a video of those girls?! You would SURELY WIN BIG on America’s Funniest Videos!! Besides their being a great advertisement for your haunted house, I’m sure that they scared people outside pretty BAD! That would have been so funny to see!!

    Myself, I don’t like scary, well, as in haunted houses, regardless of the fact that I write paranormal! See, I have control over the characters I write about, whereas I don’t have control in haunted houses. Even though I know that they are not real, I do not like being surprised by a monster reaching out for me! I do remember once, though, when I challenged myself and reached out hugged one of them!

    Now, I like ghosts. I’ve had some pretty funny experiences with them! I love to watch all the different ghost hunter type shows on TV.

    I can’t remember ever dressing as something scary.

    JH!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I don’t think I could EVER hug a ‘spook house’ monster … unless it was Elvira or somebody like that. I mean, let’s say you hugged a wolf-man … and right then the full moon comes out and he changes. Yep … all the time, he was a real wolf-man just pretending to ‘play’ a wolf-man in the local spook house.
      And that, my dear, would be a very ugly scene.
      So you can understand my reticence about hugging monsters.

      Like

  15. Micki Gibson says:

    I knew your post today was going to be a real TREAT! I think I’m with the others just trying to picture that visual of the teen girls screaming and fleeing and flying popcorm. Too funny!

    And I am very impressed with the extent you went to for your costume. You had me at the wood pieces. (I give bonus points to costumes that require a trip to Home Depot over Joann’s Fabric just for the ingenuity.) Gotta love that the football coach helped you out with the shoulder pads. And driving 100 miles for the mask? With your very entertaining story….you win the best costume prize!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Micki … I love winning prizes!
      Actually, adding the wood pieces was a lot more complicated and time-consuming that I featured in the post.
      It required two pieces of wood for each boot since cutting one 4″ piece with a jig saw would have been impossible. And I didn’t even have a jig saw anyhow, so I had a friend at the local airport hanger to trace my boot sole on the board and then cut out two of them — one for each boot. The other pieces we just needed for height, but they could be narrower and cut as a thin rectangle. The black 4″ tape concealed the fact that the inside board piece was not shaped to the sole. Confused?
      Me too, but the airplane guy was in a hurry —he was a crop duster.

      Like

  16. Stephy Smith says:

    Hillarious Jeff!

    Like

  17. Nancy Wolter says:

    My birthday suit, lol! 💀👻🎃

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s