It has been a few months. It’s hard to believe that at one time this was a daily blog. Of course back then there were a couple of writers. I’ve still got plenty to say and hopefully there are readers who want to hear what I have to say. So how is it that over four months pass before I publish a blog entry? Notice I said “publish” there were many times that I sat down, started writing, and didn’t finish. It’s like a pressure relief valve. I sit down all fired up and a few paragraphs in the urgency to write seems to fade. I never get back to one I’ve started even though I tell myself that I’ll get back and finish it.
So here it is one day before the election. If I had something to say about the election that might have made a difference, I would have written much sooner. However, there is something almost as scary as politics during this time during the year—Halloween.
Halloween is my favorite holiday and as one of the neighborhood kids says I go “all out.” I’ve enjoyed the holiday since I was very young. One of my earliest memories is winning a classroom costume contest. I was dressed as “Hot Stuff” a comic book character. It was way back in 1960. We had school Halloween parties back then and someone dressed as a little devil could win a costume contest. I wonder if things have changed much since then. As I grew up Halloween provided many opportunities to stretch my creative muscles. There were costumes to construct, of course, but more importantly we had to have a neighborhood tactical plan. We had to get to the most houses in the allotted time and a pillow case was the only acceptable option for collecting the candy. There were rules we had to follow or we couldn’t go. We weren’t allowed to eat anything homemade. All candy had to be inspected before we could eat it and we were only allowed to eat two pieces each day. If we got a good haul that meant we would have candy until Christmas! Finally in our house “Trick-or-treat” ended at the age of 12. After that age, my job was to do the handing out.
So I handed out candy when the doorbell rang. My parents didn’t decorate or get into the spirit of the holiday at all. Dave Michaels was a friend of mine from high school. His dad set up a pumpkin on a pole covered with a white cloth. The pumpkin had an electric light in it and a speaker under it. It also had a large solenoid that would flip up some stubby arms under the cloth. Dave’s dad would hide in the house and watch the kids through the window. When they came up he would talk with them and make the arms go up and down. I only saw it one time and only for a couple of minutes. When I saw it, it didn’t work but that brief encounter changed the way I looked at Halloween ever since.
Eventually, I recreated the talking pumpkin only a bit better and I set it up every year for over thirty years. My pumpkin had a speaker, and a light. While it didn’t have moving arms, the light was voice modulated. When Nancy and I moved to Tucson in 2000 we brought our talking pumpkin. The neighborhood kids loved talking to the pumpkin and would sometimes come back after they finished trick-or-treating just to chat. Many still remember it but now they’re quite a bit older and some even have children of their own. It was our sole display until 2008 when I finally retired from work at Raytheon and the beginning of the next chapter in the “Lacey’s Scary Halloween Graveyard.”
Nancy bought me a hang up clown display in 2008 and I attempted to make it come out of a box. Mercifully, I don’t have any pictures of that attempt. I started too late and the power automotive radio aerial didn’t have the >snap< I was looking for. In 2009 I started earlier and discovered pneumatics. The Clown and the Popup Ghoul were born and joined the talking pumpkin. Gravestones were put in the garden behind lumps of dirt. It was better but I made a mistake. I invited a few friends over on Halloween night to come over and see the display. It wasn’t a mistake to invite them. It was a mistake to invite them on Halloween night. There was so much going on and I wasn’t able to enjoy their visit, show off the display, operate the display, and dole out the candy.
The current routine started in 2010 when I invited some friends over the night before. Once in a while things just seem to work out. I found a new friend Jack Herron who got into the holiday as much as I did and he donated tons of his decorations to the effort. Having people over the day before was so much better and continued through this year. The “Devil’s Night” party provided me a chance to dry run all the props, show off a bit, and have a party. Things that fail during the dry run can be repaired on Halloween before Trick-or-Treat and the kids get a fully functioning display for the entire time.
I hope that you enjoy Halloween as much as I do. Check out the video and come by in 2017 and see what is new!