Post #43 – Women’s Memoirs, News – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler
Happy Halloween, everyone. The monsters will be out in force this Sunday night, standing on your doorsteps with candy sacks in hand shouting Trick or Treat. The monsters will be out here at Women’s Memoirs too…monster savings that is, from now until November 1st.
More of that in a moment. First, a few paragraphs to share my memories of Halloweens past.
Memoir of a Happy Halloween Childhood
I love Fall in New England. Ever since I can remember, this has been a time of magic and mystery. Even in 2010, I wake up one morning and the trees and bushes have miraculously changed from green to a fiery palette of crimson, orange, yellow and gold.
When my sister, brother and I were young, our mother (Moo to the family) encouraged us to scan the evening sky for sightings of witches making practice flights. “They have to practice now,” she explained, “if they are to fly in perfect formation on Halloween night.”
If we looked long enough and hard enough, we’d usually spy a tiny silhouette–a witch (we were sure) as she piloted her broomstick on a flight path that crossed before the bright orange harvest moon. Moo was usually the first to spot one, which only encouraged the rest of us to begin seeing our own witches. Being the youngest, my brother was usually the last to catch a glimpse but soon enough he’d shout, “There goes one.”
“Where, where?” my sister Niki would ask while Dobie eagerly pointed toward the moon. Such is childhood imagination, especially when you grew up with a mother as creative and playful as ours. She loved all holidays, parties and celebrations, but Halloween was by far her favorite.
We didn’t celebrate Halloween night at our house; we reveled in Halloween month. October 1st, Moo and I would drag from the attic the dozen or so worn cardboard boxes and start unpacking our treasured Halloween decorations. Long before you could buy spun filament spider webs, we cut our own out of orange and black crepe paper and pinned them to ceilings throughout the living room and foyer.
For several nights, Niki, Dobie and I rushed through our homework to get to the important task of decorating. There were table centerpieces to assemble, rubber hands and dismembered feet to slip in behind couch cushions and pillows, sheets to drape in ghostly fashion over furniture and artwork, plush black cats to cluster near the fireplace, honeycomb paper ghosts and cardboard skeletons to hang from ceilings and doorways and spooky posters to tape on windows and doors.
The work was fun, and all the while we listened to Halloween records–Hans Conried’s Monster Rally, Spike Jones in Stereo, Boris Karloff reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories for Young People, and a melange of ghostly sound effects, creaking doors,
heavy breathing, fluttering bat wings, blood-chilling screams and maniacal laughter. Moo kept us further fortified with bowls of steaming witches’ brew (beef-vegetable soup); grilled cheese, grilled peanut butter and grilled chocolate bar sandwiches; frosty mugs of tart apple cider; and sugary donut balls hot out of the deep fryer.
All month, we laughed and played, listened to ghost stories, flew (ran) around the backyard on our tiny witch brooms, filled treat bags, and planned our costumes. This was a special month; these were precious years. Finally, the big day would arrive…
October 31st, we rushed through dinner, too excited to keep much down. Visions of sugar highs danced in our heads–eager for our blood sugar to be raised by Sugar Babies, Milky Way, Mounds bars, Junior Mints, Chicklets gum, Bit O’ Honey, Bonomo Turkish Taffy, Hershey’s Kisses, paraffin wax lips and the handfuls of candy corn we would gather from willing neighbors on this one night of condoned begging. Oh, glorious trick or treating!
While we were out roaming the neighborhood with our friends, Witch Hazel visited our home. She’d swoop in for a quick cup of tea and a piece of pumpkin pie with Moo. I never saw Witch Hazel but I knew she was real. I had all the proof I needed in the gifts wrapped in orange and black tissue paper and neatly piled on the hearth.
In truth, Halloween was never far from our thoughts during the rest of the year. Having grown up within broadcast range of the New York City television stations, each Saturday night we had the thrill of watching Chiller Theater hosted by the one, the only, the cool ghoul himself Zacherle. Here’s the show’s intro:
I’m a child of the Fifties and a teen of the Sixties. This was the era of Halloween Rock `n Roll. And the most popular song of all was Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Cryptkickers performing Monster Mash. This video on YouTube pairs the Monster Mash with a wonderful collection of clips from some of the greatest horror films and some of the cheesiest B movies. It was the B’s that we usually saw on Chiller Theatre.
Feast your eyes and ears on these and then scroll down to learn about the Treats Matilda and I have assembled for you.
It’s been almost 50 years since I first watched Chiller Theatre and laughed as Zacherle threw heads of cabbage into a laundry bin where his monster wife, My Dear, resided. We never saw My Dear but we knew she was in there from the squeaky screeches emanating from the laundry bin as it skittered across the set and careened off the walls. Great stuff to a Halloween-loving eleven year old.
Moo’s love of all things Halloween began when she was a child and never waned. She once told me that she wished she could change her birthday to October 31st. We celebrated Halloween month every year until 2001 when she passed away. I still have the cardboard boxes full of decorations, and while I don’t decorate my whole house these days, I always unpack a few special things to put me in the spirit of the month.
In 1998 I took Moo to the Chiller Theatre Toy, Model and Film Expo, held each Halloween at a hotel in the New Jersey Meadowlands. We got to meet Zacherle, who didn’t need as much makeup for his cadaverous effect as he’d worn for decades. Moo was thrilled, had her picture taken with Zack and received his autograph. And this Sunday, even though he’s 92 years young, Zacherle will be the center of attention once again at the Chiller Theatre Expo. Cool ghouls just know how to live it up.
If you’d like to read more about my childhood Halloweens, click here for my 2009 Halloween blog Witch Hazel Made Me Eat my Vegetables.
3 Sweet Treats from Women’s Memoirs
First, while we can’t wrap our treats in orange and black tissue paper and send them out to you by special witch courier, we can celebrate Halloween 2010 by treating you to 25% off any and all products in our Women’s Memoirs store that you order before November 1. Just make your selection(s), go to your shopping cart, but before you check out enter and apply the Coupon Code: TREAT. We’ll automatically discount your entire order by 25%.
We have books, DVDs and eCourses to advance your memoir writing skills and focus your marketing strategy. But writing a memoir is not all intensive writing and social networking. It’s about recapturing your memories and emotions and reconstructing scenes and events. We have the tools to help you relax and get in touch with your innermost thoughts: Thai silk pillows, bookmarks and journaling books; hand-crafted soaps and lotion bars; notecards; custom tea blends; and our specially designed mugs. You’re working hard; you deserve a little pampering.
And if you really want to think ahead, you can use our Halloween Treat Savings to pick up Christmas and holiday gifts for writer friends on your list. Take advantage of this spooktacular discount.
Second, Matilda noticed the other day that we’re fast approaching 1550 comments here on our Women’s Memoirs blogsite. At this writing, we have exactly 1534. Help us get to 1550 by leaving us a comment, and we’ll treat one of you to a Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandana. These have been a big hit this Halloween. I can report that there’ll be more than 400 Halloween Rosies sporting our kerchiefs as part of their costumes this year. We’d love to give you a Legacy Bandana. For a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment to help us reach 1550.
Third, if you follow our Thursday ScrapMoir stories, you know that we love memoir vignettes that include photos and recipes. I guess you could say that this announcement of Halloween Treats has morphed into a full-fledged ScrapMoir. It’s filled with happy memories, to which I’ve liberally sprinkled photos and videos. The witch illustrations are from the last painting my mother made–shortly before her stroke. The painting hangs in my living room and reminds me every day of Moo, her enthusiasm and our happy Halloweens past. And now, as a final treat, I want to share my treasured family pumpkin pie recipe with a twist. This is a real winner. It’s the touch of dried ancho chili powder that makes this truly special…just enough to supply a snap but not to overpower. Happy Halloween.
Extra-Snappy Pumpkin Pie
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried ancho chili powder
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
Prepare your pie crust first. Either make your favorite pastry crust from scratch or use a frozen pie crust. Don’t pre-bake the shell.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Add all remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes longer. The exact cooking time can vary slightly depending on your oven. To test, insert a knife blade into the center of the pie. If it comes out clean, your pie is done. Set out to cool. Serve cool (top with whipped cream) and store leftovers in refrigerator.