When I was recently hunting through old "dress ups" in search of a costume for a Halloween party, I was reminded that we're never too old for costumes!
If my husband and I were able to laugh that hard as we joked around with old wigs and masks and hats (that his mom had kept) well then it would work for the Quilt groups!
We talked about how downright creepy masks can be. I shared an odd assortment of flat masks that cover just the top half of the face.
There's something incredibly eerie about recognizing the mouth and voice... and then noticing the eyes peering out from those tiny holes on the paper mask.
These old molded masks are pretty spooky, too. Some of us remembered how ridiculously hot these things were to wear! We debated about the Indian mask and how appropriate it would be to wear that today. I wasn't surprised that quite a few could see no harm, where others had concerns about the painted face and the mean image.
Costumes, Then and Now
We wondered what costumes kids used to wear... that we don't see anymore. There aren't many gypsies trick-or-treating these days. We figured we wouldn't see Roy Rogers at the door or a scarecrow or a "tramp". We wondered what costumes we see today that we wouldn't have seen 40 years ago. "Barrack Obama!" was one answer.
A Princess or Two!
There are some costumes that seem to show up every year. We still see witches and maybe even a ghost or a Superman now and then.
And there's always at least one princess!
What Could You Be?
We tried to be inspired by picking up just a pair of gloves or a scarf or glasses. How can one thing transform you into another character?
And we remembered when kids' costumes were simple and homemade. You didn't buy a sword or a broom to add to your costume. You made it from cardboard or searched the closets till you found something to use.
I was so curious with some of the older folks, or the quilt group members who didn't grow up in the States. I wasn't sure how many even had memories of going door to door in costumes.
My most surprising answer was from Ken, who was a young boy growing up in the Bronx in the 1930's. No, he didn't remember going door to door on Halloween. "But I remember dressing up in poor looking clothing and knocking on doors asking if they had food." Since I know Ken wasn't really poor I asked. "Did you feel a little guilty about that, Ken?"
"Of course not!" Ken explained. All the kids did it. His daughter was visiting and helped us with her internet search. What a surprise! I never realized there was a tradition like this, actually on Thanksgiving. I read later that it was often called Ragamuffin Day.
I always have to add some music to the group, so we enjoyed a few recorded tunes. Some staff members at the Assisted Living home were happy to dance a little to Thriller and I was surprised that 90 year old, June could recognize the music to Psycho. I was equally surprised that some of my Spanish speaking crowd at the Center recognized Phantom of the Opera.
Eerie Melodica Sounds
My last group at the Skilled Nursing Facility met on the patio because the weather was heavenly. The balmy air attracted some folks I might not have had otherwise. There were more wheelchairs and caregivers and family members than usual... a more varied group than I'm used to.
I slipped back into my childish self and crept around the group, adding a dramatic jolt of organ sound to "scare" my friends. They were all good at humoring me and played along. I came closer to a new gentleman in a wheelchair who had been moaning and thrashing uncomfortably. His wife had been enjoying our theme, but I wasn't sure if I might cause more agitation. This is when I realize my lack of training. The dear man wasn't looking at me, but I sensed his mouth turning upward as I got closer. I decided to risk it and gave him a "jolt" of my silliness! His reaction was sublet, but sweet. I could see the distraction had been pleasant for him. His wife smiled as he became calmer.
What Did I Learn?
With concerns of health and safety, there are fewer kids enjoying the old-fashioned fun of going door to door for candy. If I'm lucky enough to meet great grandchildren someday, I wonder if they'll question me with envy. "Did you really knock on doors and open your bag for candy when you were little?"
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.