Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Special Guest Halloween, 1968 - Part 1

Today our friend Ken Martinez has generously shared some of his family photos, from the golden days of 1968. These are really great, such a wonderful slice of Americana. Ken has also written some nice captions to go along with each picture, so I can spend more time watching daytime TV.

Image 1 - PUMPKIN PATCH - The pumpkin patch was located in Half Moon Bay, between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. My parents used to take us there every mid-October in the 1960's and early 70's so us kids could pick out pumpkins to bring back home and carve into Jack 'O-Lanterns. Occasionally we'd bring friends along too. I'm the kid in the yellow shirt, who will shortly be wearing a robot costume about a week or so later on Halloween. The kid in the striped shirt was a childhood friend, who's name I unfortunately don't remember.

I think Linus would agree that this is a very sincere pumpkin patch! I wonder if this area is all developed today?

Image 2 - ROBOT COSTUME - Here I am in my Halloween robot costume posing for the camera on the driveway. My dad created the costume from various materials lying around the house. the main body was corrugated cardboard built around two Styrofoam wreath bases. The Panels on the front of the body were various plastic parts taken from discarded appliances or hardware. The top of then headpiece was mounted with a hubcap and radio antenna. The pants were a pair of jeans with open ended coffee cans inserted into both legs and corrugated cardboard for the lower legs. The boots were regular rain boots with zippers. Silver dict tape was used to hem the lookout window and edges of the leg and arm material. Masking tape was applied around the finger tips of some old work gloves to create tube-like fingers. Finally, the entire costume was spray painted silver to complete it.

Ken's dad did an amazing job! I hope Ken said "Crush - kill - destroy" as he walked stiff-legged.

Image 3 - THE SCHOOL YARD - Here we are in the elementary school yard where all the kids and teachers showed up dressed for Halloween. One of the rings I remember most about the robot costume  was that it was real itchy. I had a hard time seeing and walking around in it. The kid in the blue space man costume (Dwight) was my neighbor, friend and classmate. I remember that he and Skeleton boy were watching out for me to make sure I didn't take a dive while standing and walking around. The witch was my teacher Mrs. Watkins. I remember the costume getting quite a response from all the kids and teachers that day.

Can you imagine wearing that costume for the entire school day? I hope Ken could take off part of it (the helmet at least) during classes! It looks like it would be impossible to sit down.

Image 4 - MORE SCHOOL YARD - Here's another image with my two school buddies still keeping watch to make sure I was stable. The robot costume was probably the most complicated costume I ever wore. Thanks to my dad's creative talent, it was also one of the most memorable Halloweens I ever had. I hope you all enjoyed.

MANY THANKS to Ken Martinez for sharing these awesome photos. They make me nostalgic for my own Halloweens from when I was around the same age. Perhaps 8 or 9 is the ultimate age for All Hallow's Eve? Anyway, Ken has sent more pictures to share in future posts, so stay tuned!


Nanook said...

Oh, Ken-

Your dad is a very talented costume designer-! And you, sir, are one brave soul for wearing it for such an extended time period. I can only imagine how limiting it was for both walking around are seeing where you were headed. It kinda reminds me of the 'Ham' costume Scout wore in To Kill a Mockingbird, as both were difficult to navigate without assistance - although yours is much classier-!

Good show-! And thanks for sharing. (You too, Major).

Pegleg Pete said...

I too was reminded of Scout's ham outfit while looking at the pics! I would certainly prefer the fancy robot outfit to the ham, though. Thanks for sharing, Ken.

Tom said...

That robot costume is amazing. Very creative use of found materials! Always cool to see pictures of Halloween from bygone days, and the costumes kids had back then.

Anonymous said...

I see Casper and Superman and the Devil and Willy Mays and a smaller, smiling witch on crutches...but none as cool as Ken in his Robot costume!!!

Really does bring back the memories - at our grade school the 6th graders (oldest kids in school) would parade through the other classrooms to show our costumes - it was a big deal to get to show our creativity!

Thanks Ken for these great images.

Bill in Denver

Chuck said...

That is one awesome costume, Ken! Thanks for sharing the photos with us!

Melissa said...

When we build that time machine to take GDB Package Tours™ to Old Disneyland, I think we need to take a side trip to take Ken’s Dad out for some beers or a nice dinner or whatever the world’s greatest Dad would enjoy. That robot costume is so great, actual robots probably ripped off their own skins from feelings of inadequacy.

At the time, I was jealous of kids who got to go to the store; pick out a shiny, dayglo, boxed, pop-culture costume; and get high from the vinyl fumes. But our homemade costumes are some of my best memories. I wish all the pictures of my childhood costumes hadn’t been lost in all the moves and flooded basements. The best part was that we got to have three costumes every year: one for school, one for trick-or-treating, and one for the party.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook – Thanks. I totally forgot about Scout's Ham costume. I suppose if I ran into real trouble, Boo would've stepped in to protect me.

Pegleg Pete - I'm glad you enjoyed these.

Tom - Thanks. My dad would always come through with some amazing stuff he created for the Halloween and Christmas holidays.

Bill - There's something magical about those grade school years when life seemed simpler.

Chuck - Glad you enjoyed these. I think my dad created an awesome robot costume too.

Melissa - When going through these photos, I wondered if I appreciated enough what my dad did for me back then. I sure do now. As for shiny, dayglo, boxed, pop-culture costumes, stay tuned. A few will show up later this month in a 1965 set of family Halloween photos.

Major - Half Moon Bay still feels pretty rural and if that pumpkin patch isn't there, I'd be surprised. As for the robot costume, luckily I was able to take the body and head unit off when sitting at my school desk. Thank you for letting me share some of my childhood Halloween memories with your GDB readers.

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments.

Anonymous said...

And the winner is....The man from space!

Major Pepperidge said...

I had the feeling that everyone was really going to enjoy Ken's photos! Now… how can it be that nobody mentioned Ralph Kramden? I am not a "Honeymooners" fan, really, but one of the images from that show that has stayed with me is Ralph in his home-made robot costume!

Nanook said...

@ Major-

Yes, I suppose - but Ken's costume was clearly classier-!

Connie Moreno said...

HOLY CRAP! That was AWESOME!!! I agree with everyone's comments; could not have said it better myself. SO DARN COOL. You know what? I have to share the link on Facebook. This is too good not to share!