Welcoming ghosts of Halloween pasts a real treat

I have mixed feelings about Facebook, but sometimes I can't help sharing the memories that pop up in my news feed. Just this week, Facebook presented a photo of Ainsley dressed as a Precious Pink Wabbit for her first Halloween. I couldn't help but share it.

A lot has changed since Ainsley's first Halloween. Most importantly, I am no longer in charge of her costumes. This year, she is going as John Lennon (she can pull that off easier than her favorite Beatle, Paul McCartney). I fear I've missed the window for her to be a lady bug, which came in a close second to the rabbit in 2009.

Even though I've had to forfeit costume command, I still love Halloween. I have great memories of many an Oct. 31, and I've shared many of them in previous columns.

Here are a few from the archives.

Harrowing haunted house

"I'm still recovering, in fact, from a childhood trip to the Homewood Jaycees haunted house," I wrote in October 2010. "I remember the details of the visit quite clearly. Terror has a way of burning images on your brain.

"The first couple of stations in the house should have been a sign to me - or at least to my parents. Things were looking pretty scary, and my mom and dad stopped to talk to a trio of witches about whether this house might be a little too haunted for me at my tender age.

"Why did they pick the witches? I was deathly afraid of witches. My mother actually forbade me from watching 'The Wizard of Oz' for a couple of years after images of the Wicked Witch of the West kept me awake for a couple of nights after the film aired on TV."

The witches tried to give us a preview, I went on to say, and I was doing pretty well until some creature inhabiting a hole under the floor reached up from his vertical cell and grabbed my ankle. I kicked him. Bolted. And got lost.

We eventually made it out, with the help of a staff member.

"I still remember how bright the daylight seemed after being trapped in that dark and horrifying place for at least four or five minutes," I wrote.

And I do to this day.

Creepy cuisine

Halloween 2020 necessitated a look back at Halloweens past, since COVID-19 interrupted plans. I had to cancel my annual spooky dinner, so I wrote a column about the previous year's meal, featuring mashed potato snakes and "feetloaf."

"I knew the dinner was a success when our neighbor's son, 8 at the time, looked at the bloody bone (leek with tomato sauce) and toenails (cashews) and said 'I'm not eating that!' "


"Last year's Halloween may just go down in history as the Best Halloween Ever," I wrote in 2011. "If I were Linus, it would have been the year the Great Pumpkin visited my pumpkin patch."

Ainsley looked adorable as Minnie Mouse, her grandparents came over to trick-or-treat with her and the block we had moved to over the summer was filled with more trick-or-treaters than I had ever seen.

"I opened the door at one point Halloween afternoon and saw no less than 150 kids walking up and down our street," I wrote. "The sun was shining, the leaves were brilliant and it looked like a scene out of a movie."

A neighbor noticed we had all four grandparents trick-or-treating with us for what, we later would find out, would be the last time.

"You are so lucky," she told me.

She was right.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean