Stanley P. Jaskiewicz
When I suggested a feature on favorite Halloween costumes at a Voice of Experience board meeting, several people immediately said they could not remember that long ago.
When I sat down afterward to write my contribution, I realized that I too was one of them.
However, I vividly recall many of our children’s costumes, and one stands out in my mind: the ghost costume my wife made him for his first preschool Halloween parade.
As a child with a disability, he was very sensitive about the texture of his clothes.
Therefore, she made a loose-fitting white felt poncho, that was easy for him to put on and wear at school.
She decorated it with Halloween felt decorations, including a large “Boo!”.
(As a child with hyperlexia, he could read, even at that age.)
I vividly recall him leading the preschool’s costume parade, his hand firmly in that of his teacher, proud to be just like the other kids that day.
For me, that costume was a reminder that whatever challenges he faced arising from his disability, he was also still our little boy, who enjoyed doing what his big sister and the other kids were doing.
Someone thought it would be fun to get a series of short pieces about favorite Halloween costumes from our childhood. I was asked to reminisce about Halloween and write one of those pieces. In looking back, I really did not have a favorite costume as a kid. My family did not have much; my father died when I was 11 and my mother returned to school to get her degree and a teaching credential. In those days teachers got paid like indentured servants. When it came to Halloween and the need for a costume, there was no store-bought costume for me. Creativity made the costume I wore for almost my entire childhood: a hobo. We made the costume by burning a cork and smearing the blackened ash over parts of my arms and face to make it look like it was dirty. An old pair of jeans with one or more holes in the knees managed to remain in my wardrobe, no matter what size I wore. An old flannel shirt with a few holes of its own got pressed into play as well. I completed the costume with a broomstick and a bag of rags fastened to one end of the stick, which I carried over my shoulder, in the traditional fashion.
In truth, my favorite Halloween costume did not come as a child; it came about during the middle of my college career. I needed a costume for a Halloween party and did not want to go as a hobo again. I decided to go as a pirate instead as an homage to my then girlfriend, who liked to refer to me as her “pirate.” I tied a bandana around my head, put a patch over one eye, and got an oversized shirt so it would have a puffy look, with bands around the biceps (as this was in the late 1960’s, the Jerry Seinfeld puffy shirt did not yet exist). I went to a couple of toy stores and found a stuffed animal that resembled a parrot. To this day, I do not know if it was really a parrot or just some stuffed bird impersonating a parrot. To make a long story short, I bought the “parrot” and fastened it to the shoulder of my shirt with a very thin wire. Voila! I had a pirate costume. It would have been perfect if the damned bird did not keep falling over and laying on its side.