Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ghosts of Autumns Past....

My love of "Everything Autumn" came naturally.  I do believe it was fostered by my parents when I was a child.  I have some very special memories that point the way to the beginning of my love affair with Fall.....

In particular, I can remember going for long drives out in the country when I was little.  On Sunday afternoons, my mom and dad would load us up in the car to head out southwest of town, into a little ridge rising out of the earth that is known as Steamboat Mountains.  (Now, I fully acknowledge that these are not really "mountains", more like little foothills.  But, they are a break from the flat lands where Abilene sits perched.)  And, so we would head out for Daddy to "blow the soot" out of the car (translation, give the motor a good run for it's money). 

In the Fall, when the leaves began to change, Mom would arm herself with a small hand saw and when we would get away from town and into the heavier foliage, she would have Daddy pull over to the side of the road and she would take her saw and cut off a few small, low-hanging branches from the oak trees.  These were her favorites ~ just as the leaves were beginning to turn a rusty red.  When we got back home, she would arrange artfully them in an old metal milk can that she had gotten at a local antique store.  She painted and antiqued the milk can a dull colonial red and decoupaged an eagle across the front.  (Did I mention that some of our furniture was the mid-century-popular "Early American"?)  Now, that was really a "Martha Stewart" thing to do before Martha was even a glimmer on the horizon! 

Oak leaves shimmering in the Indian Summer afternoon

(After Thanksgiving, we would head out again and my parents would cut boughs off cedar trees and lug them back into town, where Daddy would carefully wire them onto the wrought iron porch support and then weave our only strand of outdoor lights throughout the greenery for the holidays.  But, that's another story entirely....)

As for Halloween, well, it was a wonderful season at our house.  Oh, we didn't have a whole lot of decorations.  And we sure as heck didn't get to drag them out on the first day of October!  But, we did have paper decorations that Mom would take out a few days prior to October 31st.  One year, my Aunt Dorothy added substantially to our collection with some truly vintage paper decorations, and even some old-fashioned "noisemakers", that my cousins had enjoyed when they were younger.  Most everything came from the "five & dime" store, but we would tape the black and orange tissue paper garland and decorations up around the front porch, or in our front bedroom windows.  Remember these?  We used them year after year.....and I really wish I had them still!

Honeycombed paper pumpkins

A trip to the grocery store yielded a big pumpkin for carving.  Daddy would enlist our help to scoop the seeds and guts out of the pumpkin, but he usually did the carving.  Our only choices were "happy jack-o-lantern" or "scary jack-o-lantern", but he loved making them really snaggle-toothed!

Eddie's interpretation of "happy jack-o-lantern"

I distinctly remember going over to the TG&Y and getting new boxed costumes one year......

This version of the popular clown costume is from 1973.
The earlier costumes, circa mid-1960's, were simpler - only red, blue and yellow - no orange or green what-so-ever!
 They came complete with the little plastic mask, which was difficult to wear for any length of time without sweating your face off!  Mom got Jill and I the cheerful clown costumes ~ and both in a size big enough to wear over our regular clothes in case it was chilly.  For some reason, getting those store-made costume really stands out in my mind.  I must have been about 7 years old, maybe 6, but I still remember the shiny, cheap fabric in yellow, red and blue.  Looking back, we must have looked like miniature Bozo's, but we were so proud! 
One year, about 1970, we hosted a Halloween party in our backyard and invited friends!  Mom cut little pumpkin invitations out of orange construction paper and Daddy did the printing.  We passed them out to our friends at church and school.  Before dark on Halloween, everyone came, in costume, to the back yard, the clothesline festooned with orange and black crepe paper and hanging decorations.  We bobbed for apples and had popcorn balls. 

Bobbing for apples!

We had 3-legged races; we dropped clothespins in bottles; we raced with dry pinto beans balanced on butter knives; and we even had relay races where we had to bust balloons by sitting on them.  I will never forget that party ~ as long as I live.  It didn't really cost any money; the food, decorations and games were very simple.  But, it was so much fun!  It was all over when darkness fell and everyone's parents picked them up and took them home for trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.

Gosh, the memories just pile up and press me to bring them forward ~ take them out and reflect on them.  And, obviously, many of them revolve around this time of the year.  That is probably why Autumn is just about my favorite season. 

Do your memories come flooding back this time of year?  Is it the time of year when all the senses seem to kick in and contribute to a sense of nostalgia when you get a whiff of a candle burning the inside of the pumpkin, or feel the crisp chill of an Autumn evening, or hear the dry rustle of tissue paper decorations?  What brings it all back for you???

Feeling Fabulously Fall-ish....



  1. You have some great memories there, Jane. I had forgotten about apple bobbing until you mentioned it, I don't recall seeing it done lately. People still have fall festivals, but they are not like they use to be. I still love them tho, and it is my favorite time of year! Thanks for sharing and bringing up old memories.

  2. What a lovely post and with great pictures. I can remember whenever we had the money to purchase store brought costumes we felt like we were the richest kids on the block and wearing *designer* clothes.

  3. I remember wearing those plastic masks. You couldn't breathe or see and I remember getting very sweaty in them. Great post!


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