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Old black cape added to perfect Halloween costume

October 11, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Just under three weeks remain until Halloween, and though I enjoy the whole idea of dressing up in odd clothing, they say I already do that.

You know the they. They - the people who say things.

And, to be honest, I should agree.

I spent part of Wednesday with Rhonda Richardson at Goodwill looking for a costume she might be able to wear to her church's Halloween festivities. The sad thing is, as she looked for '80s style fashion, what she picked up could be found in my closet. I just don't shop often and I refuse to throw away something that still has wear in it.

Ergo, the odd clothing they talk about.

When my sisters and I were young and we'd dress up to go trick-or-treating, I always wanted to be a witch. (Don't say a thing, just don't.) Mom had a huge box in the attic where she kept old clothing and bits and pieces of stuff for dress up. I can't remember dressing up to play, but let Halloween come around and that box started looking better and better.

She also had a witch's mask that I'd grab right away because a witch's face needed witch's clothing and witch's clothing was black and there was a great black cape in that big box in the attic and oh, how I loved wearing that cape. If Mom hadn't been the arbiter of weird things not to wear, I'd have worn that cape to country school even when it wasn't Halloween.

We put on a play for one PTA meeting at Newark No. 1, and I got to be the old woman who wandered slowly through the streets, falling and lying still. I can't remember if I died. I'm thinking there was cotton snow. I'm absolutely certain I wore the black cape. For the second time that year, I wore the black cape.

I also wore it trick-or-treating, as always. Because we lived in the country, either Mom and Dad drove us around - sometimes both of them. The most memorable night of begging came at our neighbors to the north of us. Annie Hansel had forgotten about Halloween, so when we knocked on her door, she had no candy. She threw a handful of pennies and nickels into each bag, then followed us to the car and told Dad to open the trunk.

She hadn't given us enough treats, she said, so she grabbed two chickens and threw them into the trunk. Sunday dinner flopped around in the far back of the car all night as we made our rounds through the neighborhood.

Halloween comes almost six months to the day after May Day. On one we begged for candy, on the other we made baskets decorated with crepe paper and pipe cleaners and filled with popcorn and candy and we gave those baskets away.

I loved doing both, but Halloween had the added attraction of that old black cape. Sometimes I'd wear it around the house for days before Halloween and days after for no other reason than I loved it so.

People looking for Halloween costumes these days should think back to what made them happiest as children. Just don't ask me for the old black cape - I have no idea what became of it.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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