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Growing up in the 60's & 70's - Halloween

Oct 07, 2016 11:42AM ● By Elizabeth Hesterly
I’ve never liked Halloween much. My dearest friends know that about me. The holiday just didn’t stick with me, not even as a child. For one thing, I don’t like masks. Having suffered from allergies my whole life, they seem to suffocate me, tightening my already restricted airways. I also don’t like being scared. While some of my friends loved the thrill of being terrified, I remained a scaredy-cat. I shrieked like the rest, but I didn’t like it.

As a child my mom always encouraged us to wear something we already had at home, or to wear a costume we could somehow create out of our very traditional closets. My dad was a football official, so I remember more than once wearing his black and white striped referee shirt with his big long whistle draped around my neck. I remember going as a cheerleader and a “dressed up lady” in one of my mom’s discarded formals. I promise you this:  I never once wore a frightening, terrifying, scary get up. Totally not my style.  

My brother and I attended Edgar Martin Elementary*, as did most of our neighbors. We waited eagerly for the Halloween Carnival held every year on the school grounds. This was a highlight of the fall season, and the carnival was held on a Saturday. I’m assuming that the event was a PTC fundraiser, but I’m not certain. All I know is we rode our bikes to our school and hung out on the playground playing games and winning plastic prizes and cheap furry animals. These were the days long before Oriental Trading Company sent a weekly catalog, so acquiring these valuables must have been some ordeal. 

What I remember most vividly is the Haunted House feature of the carnival. I always entered with a friend or two, someone braver than myself, and that included just about anyone. Clever adults had created vessels of scary items --- eyeballs and guts and bloody fingers --- all covered by black fabric, totally protecting what actually lay inside. Visitors to the Haunted House reached into these boxes and squealed with delight as they touched these horrific pieces of human flesh.

By the time I was in sixth grade I realized with great clarity that the eyeballs were peeled grapes, the guts were cottage cheese, and the bloody fingers were slender sausages with a generous amount of Heinz ketchup. It was a shocking revelation. For a girl who didn’t really like Halloween, the Edgar Martin Carnival gave me a bit of courage. I walked in that Haunted House and stuck my hand in those boxes just like everyone else. And for one Saturday in the fall, I was a brave girl—a coward no more.

 About the author: 

Elizabeth O'Roark Hesterly was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. She is a graduate of Acadiana High School and LSU, is too serious for her own good, admires loyalty and faithfulness, and strives for both.

Read more of Elizabeth's work:
Growing up in the ‘60s & ‘70s: The Coulee - Sep 19, 2016 09:45AM

Searching for the Broadmoor Pool - Aug 01, 2016 01:18PM

* Edger A. Martin Elementary School's name was changed in the early 1970's to Edgar Martin Middle School after construction of Broadmoor Elementary was completed.