As you might imagine, Halloween was always a big time around our house when the eight children were young.
Sometime early in October one of the youngest ones went to the dime store with me and chose eight false faces at 10 cents each. It didn’t occur to us to call them masks. Nor did it occur to us we’d ever pay $10 for just one of them.
When we returned home the younger kids chose their false faces first without a single complaint from the older ones because they knew those false faces would be used as toys until Halloween, and so wouldn’t be fit to wear on Beggars’ Night.
For Beggars’ Night we’d beg and borrow makeup from female relatives and paint faces appropriate to whatever costume the wearer managed to put together from the Halloween Box in the attic. Any really weird of unusual cloth, clothing, or props found around the house during the year would wind up in that box.
A week before Trick-or-Treat night the kids went to the attic to choose various pieces to put together as their costume. The older ones got to choose first because they had been looking things over and planning their outfits for a long time. Some of the outfits they had to grow into, like Dad’s old army uniform and his baseball suit, complete with socks.
There were always full skirts and blouses with lots of junk jewelry for Gypsies. There were old curtains for bridal outfits, white sheets for ghosts, and worn drapes that became Roman togas. Pirates, cowboys, hoboes and clowns spilled from the box.
Sometimes we’d make the Trick-or-Treat trek with neighbors, and sometimes we’d be a group all by ourselves. One year a three-year-old neighbor misunderstood “Trick-or -Treat” and spent the whole night looking for the “tricker tree”.
One time I was the only adult with our first six stair steps, aged three through ten. The eighteen-month-old was at home helping Daddy pass out treats to other beggars. Three days later I gave birth to our eighth child, so it was easy to understand why other people thought I was the Great Pumpkin.
Actually things were going pretty well. I was holding the hands of the two youngest beggars and the oldest ones were paired up with younger ones. Then the string holding up my maternity slacks broke.
Maternity clothes were made differently then. They were usually in two pieces and had a round cut-out on the pants to allow for the expansion of the midsection. There was a tape up the center of that cut-out that was held in place by strings from each side of the waistband tied through the tape.
When the string broke the only way to move without totally losing the pants was kind of a scuttle-glide with my legs close together down to my knees. That also left both of my hands free so I could hold onto the two littlest kids. They thought it was great fun walking like Mommy.
I decided it was time to go back home. That was the longest three blocks I ever traveled.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate October 29, 1997.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.