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HOLLENBECK: Imagination reigns supreme among the young and the old at Halloween

November 9, 2011

I always enjoy the visits from Halloween trick-or-treaters. It’s probably as much fun for me as it is for the children.
As a lifetime enthusiast of “let’s pretend,” I love seeing costumed youngsters taking on new characters.
The younger they are, the cuter they are. I could do without the adult visitors who apparently have a craving for sweets, but I don’t turn anyone away. As long as the candy holds out and the beggars are there, I gladly distribute the sweet stuff.
As a kid we used to order my Halloween costume from the Sears & Roebuck catalog. It was a big thrill when the fall catalog arrived because I’d turn to the costumes first.
One year I decided I wanted to join the world of the swashbucklers and portray a pirate. The costume featured the big-sleeved shirt that’s a standard for a pirate, along with a plumed hat and, of course, a sword.
The catalog image included this description, which I still remember: “Become a Bold Pirate!”
I took the words literally. Whenever someone would ask what I planned to be for Halloween, I’d reply, “A Bold Pirate.”
My older cousin Paula, who was a huge part of my life, took me trick-or-treating that year. I overheard her tell someone that “Lynda Lou is a pirate this year.”
“No! That’s not right, Paula,” I exclaimed. “I’m a Bold Pirate!”
Nothing done or said could convince me otherwise.
In later years as the matriarch of the house, I have greeted many adorable children who have depicted just about every character under the sun.
One of my favorites was an adorable little tow-headed boy who showed up in full monk regalia.
“Well, hello,” I said. “It looks like there’s a monk at my door.”
Aghast, he quickly corrected me.
“I’m not a monk!” he said. “I’m Friar Tuck!”
With apologies to the friar, I loaded up his sack with as much candy as I could and managed to keep a straight face as long as he could see me.
Every manner of costume imaginable could be seen this year at Downtown Benton’s Spook City. This was an unbelievably successful event that children and their parents seemed to love.
I made the mistake of calling one little girl a ballerina, but was corrected quickly by her mother.
“She’s a ‘baterina,’” the charming woman told me.
One is limited only by the amount of one’s imagination.
A 7-year-old girl chose not to go for the popular standards and became, literally, “a little old lady.”
She had on old-fashioned spectacles — granny glasses, as it were; had sprayed her hair grey; was wearing a dress that looked like it might have been worn by my Grandmother White; and she was using a tiny walker.
I didn’t see a cuter sight at the whole event.
My favorite Halloween anecdote doesn’t involve a child. Again, this is about Cousin Paula, but this time as a grown-up teacher of speech and drama.
She had a doctor’s appointment one Halloween and part of the visit included having blood drawn for some sort of test.
Paula’s sense of humor and her flair for theatrics couldn’t be surpassed.
After the nurse explained she needed to draw the blood, Paula, in her best Hungarian accent, presented her with a couple of options:
“Do you vant it from zee ahm or do you vant it from zee neck?” she said.
With deadpan response and a puzzled expression, the nurse — with zero tolerance for humor — replied:
“Oh, the arm will be just fine.”
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.

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