Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Vintage Gen X Halloween (Week 21 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

This year my daughter's Halloween costume is serious vintage.  I made an amazing find on Ebay: a never-been-worn toddler costume from the 1960s that was cheap because it just needed some repairs and cleaning.  Ben Cooper  was a company that sold packaged Halloween costumes that included a mask and an outfit:  in this case it was pink fuzzy flannel.

Ben Cooper made costumes from the late 1930s to the early 1990s.
From the 1950s-1970s, the company was iconic of an American Halloween. 

I have a distinct memory of Halloween night in 1979: after I was done trick-or-treating, I remember opening the front door with my dad to hand out candy to kids and seeing a small kid in my neighborhood standing in front of me wearing this exact costume.  So either they were still making this costume in the 70s, or it was a hand-me-down from their older sibling.  Why do I remember this since I was 3 at the time and now I'm 35?  I have this weird knack for photographically memorizing patterns like the one on Fluffy the Bunny's crazy bow tie...    

Still in the original box! I remember taking my costumes
out of boxes just like this when I was a tot.

I imagine this box being stored in someone's attic under some old Super 8 reels which would explain the dent on top.  When I look at the pumpkins at the bottom of the box all I can think of is "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  They look just like the pumpkins at the party where Lucy goes bobbing for apples and finds Snoopy in the water. 

Here's to all the vintage memories of Gen X watching Halloween specials on TV, running through neighborhoods in the dark, collecting candy in the cold air, and feeling condensation form on the inside of a plastic mask that turned you into someone else, even if just for one night.  

(c) 2011 photography and wrting by Chloe - all rights reserved


Anonymous said...

I had a couple of these types of costumes when I was growing up. That's really cool that you found one of these with the original box. A lot of the costumes from that era came in boxes like that (I remember seeing rows and rows of them at the store) and for some reason seeing that box makes me feel like a kid in the early 70s again. Thanks for posting this. - - B.L.

ChloeGXP said...

B. - I also feel like a small kid again for a moment when I see this box and other boxes like it. Something about the fonts/colors/style and even the Magic-Glo makes me feel the anticipation and excitement of getting ready to go trick-or-treat all those years ago. When I see these boxes I also remember being Casper the Friendly Ghost one year in the late 70s so I'm probably just a few years younger than you. Ben Cooper, Inc. was one of the "big three" companies from that era that made the same type of costumes in boxes like that - the other two were Halco and Collegeville.