Let’s Talk with Diane A.S. Stuckart

Black Sneakers and Pumpkin Carols
By Diane A.S. Stuckart

I was Goth before Goth was a thing. Back in the 1960s, I was the little girl in black tennis shoes (never white or pink like the rest of my school friends). On weekends, I was known to parade around with a towel-sized remnant of black satin dramatically wrapped over my frilly dress. Each month, I poured over the latest issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine with my younger brothers. Of course, I watched all the classic horror movies on TV (Dracula and Frankenstein being the favorites). And the books I checked out of the library each weekend tended to features ghosts and witches and magic.

Given all that, you might correctly guess that, growing up, Halloween was a major holiday for me. The celebration always began a few days before the end of October. With It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown playing on TV, we kids would sit at the kitchen table with crayons and brown paper grocery bags to create homemade trick-or-treat sacks. Next night, we’d help Dad carve a few jack-o-lanterns for the front porch (great fun except for that yucky part where you have to scrap out all the seeds and gooey stuff!). But best of all was Halloween Eve and deciding on our costumes for trick-or-treating.

We were poor, so none of those fancy store-bought costumes for us, though every couple of years Mom scrounged up enough spare cash to buy us each a cheap plastic mask. But since she didn’t much care for Halloween, herself, she left the rest of the costuming up to us. That usually meant sheets or blankets or an old shirts of Dad’s or a discarded dress of Mom’s. That along with one of Mom’s lipsticks, or maybe some shoe polish, sufficed to create a wicked witch or scary monster. And then we were off into the night, ringing door bells and collecting as much candy as we could carry home.

When the evening was over, we sorted our booty into three piles: the good stuff (chocolates bars), the pretty good stuff (other candy bars and nuts), and the yucky stuff (candy corn, hard candies, and the toothbrush from the dentist down the street). And while it was tempting to scarf half the candy in a single night, we kids always had a competition to see who could make their haul last the longest (I think my brother David inevitably won that one). But worse than the candy stash dwindling to the lemon drops was the sad realization that the next Halloween was almost a full year away.

As an adult, I’ve clung to my Goth-Halloween roots. Until I moved to Florida, a large portion of my wardrobe was black. I keep an eye out for vintage Halloween jewelry all year round, and wear those pieces all through the month of October. I collect Tarot card decks and watch scary movies, and I ghost hunt on the side. And the boxes in my attic filled with Halloween decorations are every bit as numerous as the ones marked “Christmas”.

But the actual holiday is far more low key for me these days. Since we don’t get trick-or-treaters out our way, I spend October 31 watching the old horror classics while snacking on Halloween candy. And if I finish all my little chocolate bars by evening’s end, no biggie. There’s always the Day-After-Halloween sales where I can replenish.

So, how do you celebrate Halloween…and where does it rank among your favorite holidays?