• Tyler Ham

Ghosts of Halloween Past

I’m not sure if Halloween was always my favorite holiday, but it has been for as long as I can remember  (Although I am sure Christmas eeked by it for a few of the big toy years). Every jack-o-lantern was a masterpiece, and every costume was a proud culmination of desire, ambition, and availability.

That haircut wasn’t for a He-Man costume (Halloween 1984)


Recently I went through a ton of old photos I had been given by my mom, or other family members over the years. In them, I found an amazing representation of my interests, and societal trends, represented in costume form.  Lets take a fun-sized stroll through the late 70s and 80s via my halloween costume choices.

1978 – The Pumpkin

I was born in May of 1977, so while this technically isn’t my first Halloween, it is the first one that I’m going to count. Here we have the Pumpkin, a costume I think I wore at least 2 or 3 times, and my younger brother had to endure several years later. I think every kid was a pumpkin at some point , at least in the late 70s and early 80s. I look at the pumpkin as a right of passage. Like “kid, if you make it through this, you can make it through anything.”  I made it.

1982 – Spider-Man

1981 saw the premiere of the Spider-Man and Spider-Man and his amazing friends animated series, which is probably the inspiration behind this 1982 costume. Im not going to lie, this is a pretty rad outfit. Now, I don’t want to shit all over Ben Cooper, but this beats the tar out of the vac-formed masks and “plastic outfit with a picture of who you are supposed to be” on it. Mom did me a solid this year.

1984 – The Headless Horseman

Ok, I can talk for days about this one.  This is both my crowning achievement and disastrous failure of a costume.  I was beyond obsessed with Disney’s animated Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I even went to school in an area called Sleepy Hollow – Which I thought was one in the same. To celebrate my fascination with all things headless horseman, I decided to be him for Halloween. I got the sword, the cape, a clever pumpkin head that doubled as my candy pail, and a black turtleneck (In the disney cartoon he is in all black, and doesn’t have his turtleneck tucked into the front of his jeans. Forgive me). But how does a 7 year old make his head disappear? I figured that if it was dark, and I had a black hood on, my head would somehow blend into the sky and give me the illusion of being headless. I thought I was a genius! Turns out I am no David Copperfield, and the illusion was a bust. Most people thought I was an executioner. No one thought I was the Headless Horseman. The only thing to console me being the fact that I could take the hood off, throw a wig on, and hit the entire neighborhood twice.

1986 – The Punk

This is what upper middle class kids thought hardcore punks looked like. We can all thank literally ANY movie that had ANY gang in it in the mid 1980s. Whatever it was, it was my costume this year. You may notice the rubber spikes, but I can assure you that I had on REAL chains. I’m not quite sure why I have heart glasses on, and I don’t know too many bad-asses who sport velcro reeboks with their pants rolled up 5 inches too high. I actually went to a Halloween party this year and everyone loved it, so while the authenticity is questionable, the applause was monumental.

1989 – The Joker

I started this entry with my first Halloween, and end it with my last. Why was this my last? That is a seperate post all together.

Nothing was more fun than the first thoughts of “what will I be this year.” Once the air cooled and the leaves started turning, imagination took flight. White grease paint and lipstick turned you into the Joker, and a cheap sword and a cheaper bandana with questionable Asian symbolism turned you into a ninja. November 1st was the saddest day of the year, but the candy high could maybe – just maybe – get you through Thanksgiving.

What will you be this Halloween?

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