I remember when my mom introduced me to the original John Carpenter’s “Halloween” movies. I was in grade school, old enough to distinguish between real and make believe but still young enough that things could spook me. One afternoon, just a few weeks before Halloween, I nestled into bean bag and listened to that famous music come over the television. Mom kept telling me how much she loved watching “Halloween” when she was younger and how it was just the epitome of good Halloween movies. Michael Myers scared me to death, but watched every bit of it with her, ultimately sealing my love of all things Halloween.
Dad would always be in charge of making sure I had the best pumpkins carved and that we had decorations all over our front porch. Of course we had to balance hanging them between Alabama football games, but Saturdays in October were meant for all things Halloween. Ghost stories. Happy scary movies. Really scary movies. Popcorn. Oh, and the best Halloween costumes around.
For many years my mom made my costumes. As a baby it was an Alabama cheerleader, batgirl and cat woman. My favorite was the homemade Jasmine from “Aladdin” costume. As I got older, it became witches and ghosts. Another favorite was being a haunted vampire. Then everything became Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think I went as Buffy every year until trick-or-treating just fizzled out for me. I even had a piece of wood my dad formed into a vampire stake – it was the ultimate cosplay long before cosplay even mattered.
Dad and I would sneak candy for weeks out of the candy bowl that sat by the front door. We always had the good candy – Snickers, Reece Cups, Payday, Twix. No matter how much Mom told us to get out of that candy bowl, somehow we always had to replenish the Halloween candy before all Hallows Eve would approach.
Halloween night meant that everyone in town would trick-or-treat at our house. Being on Main Street meant we saw hundreds of children. Mom would make homemade chili and by the end of Halloween night I would feel myself settling in with the first cold of the season – there was just something about that chilly, haunting night air that set the right things in motion.
On the front porch’s stone steps sat an orange ceramic pumpkin with a black ceramic top hat that was illuminated by a tea light. At the end of Halloween I would sit outside on the steps, still in my Halloween costume and savor the last few minutes until the tea light fizzled out and Halloween was over. I remember one Halloween watching the tea light fade when a straggler set of trick-or-treaters stopped by the house. Among the costumed children was someone dressed as Michael Myers. I watched as Mom handed out the last of the candy. The person dressed as Michael Myers never said a word. He opened his bag, waited for candy, turned around and began to walk down the front porch steps. Slowly the person turned to look at me and in creepy Michael Myers fashion just stared at me for a minute until walking off.
I’ve never bolted into the house faster than I did that night.
I didn’t even wait for the tea light to extinguish.
Laura Pitts is a former Daily Mountain Eagle reporter, and currently serves as director of the Scottsboro Public Library.