Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Halloween Pix, 1950s

We're almost a week into October, and it seems like as good a time as any to start sharing some vintage Halloween photos. These are undated, but surely from the mid-1950s. These are all a bit dark, taken outside at night - not the best time for cameras of over 60 years ago. But it's fun to see the sorts of costumes that kids devised in an era where, other than the occasional rubber mask, store-bought items were not used. They had to get creative with old clothes, funny hats, and so on.

No costume really stands out that much in this murky view - I can't quite tell what's going on with the zaftig "woman" with the straw head (or whatever that is). The girl to the right has a sombrero and dark eyebrows drawn on. Hey, it's a look. Her friend was bashful and didn't want her photo taken.

One girl to the left just wore her nice party dress, what gives? I like "Vampyra" with her frowning, shiny face. Hobos are always a classic Halloween costume (I was a hobo one year). And we've got a pair of rubber-masked whatsits to the right. One looks like an angel, only she's got a face that's not angelic.

Pillows make handy stuffing if you want a big belly. Both of these girls have lifted their hideous rubber masks, didn't the photographer want to capture them in their full costumes? The lady to the right has a microphone, I guess some sort of "best costume" might have been going on. Incidentally, this woman can be seen in THIS PHOTO, next to the flower painting.

Here's a motley assortment of kids; a politically-incorrect boy in blackface (hey, it was 60+ years ago) is wearing a pink hat. Other girls seem to be wearing granny shawls and dresses, some with tasteful domino masks. And there's a fairy, and maybe a gypsy (a popular costume for girls).

Your guess is as good as mine on some of these. Is the girl in blue holding a whoopie cushion?? Next to her is the world's saddest sailor, and then a ghost who might be a REAL spirit!

Panning to the left we see the two girls seen in photo #3, this time with their masks in place. They're just weird. A street urchin is to the left of them, with soot strategically placed. I have to be honest, I wish they'd taken these photos in an environment with better lighting!

I know these weren't that great, but I have to post something Halloweeny in October! There are more to come throughout the month.


Nanook said...

I'm afraid the lack of 'store-bought' costumes yields much better and creative costumes - even if there's no escaping the homemade look to them. They're so much more fun-!

The microphone the woman is holding could be an Altec 633A or an American Microphone D4T 'Salt Shaker' microphone.

And as for the "gal" in the first image - 'boys will be girls'-!

Thanks, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, these dark, outside photos are terrific for Halloween. There are creepy characters lurking in the background of some of these...in pic #1 on the right - leaning against the fence; and in pic #4 - on the right.

That adorable angel in pic #4 just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting of a Sunday School Christmas program.

And that sad sailor, that you pointed out, looks like a young "Shy Di." Cute girl. She's staring at whatever else that "whoopie cushion gal" is also holding?? A coin purse??

I'm looking forward to more fun kid "getups"! Thanks, Major!

K. Martinez said...

These are so much better than store bought costumes. I love the weirdness of some of the rubber masks and that sheet-ghost is hilarious. I'd give these a ten for atmosphere and nostalgia. Even the white picket fence in the dark is cool. I think the darkness even adds to the photos.

I was a hobo one year for Halloween too, Major. Thanks for these fun pictures. There's just something about Halloween that I love to this day.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Ken, you're right about that ghost! Btw, you still win 1st prize for the best costume, ever!

K. Martinez said...

Aww! Thank you Sue.

Melissa said...

Well, hellooooooo, sailor! I thought the only spirit sailors were supposed to hang out with was Demon Rum! I think my favorite of this bunch is Frida Kahlo in the first picture. She even has the facial expression right!

We were a homemade-costumes-only family. I was always a bit jealous of the kids who got to go out and buy the latest trendy costume, but in retrospect it *was* a lot more fun to come up with our own. And Mom was a talented seamstress, so if we needed or wanted some special piece she could always whip it up for us.

One of the Tumblr accounts I follow has been posting up a storm of pictures of vintage kids all dressed up for Halloween. Here's a link, if any other Junior Gorillas care to have a look.

Melissa said...

Meant to add: My favorite of the bunch.

TokyoMagic! said...

I wonder if that one girl who is lifting up her mask, was supposed to be "Laughing Sal" from a local carnival or amusement park?

That sailor isn't sad...she's just tired. She had just finished recreating Gene Kelly's big tap dance number from "Anchors Away."

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
That's quite the treasure-trove of costumes. And then there's always THIS ONE. (Somehow, I think there was a bit of outside coaching).

DrGoat said...

Everyone pretty much said it all. They are particularly distressing photos, which make them perfect for Halloween. That last one is really a dark one. I like the kid in the saddle oxfords. A street urchin, and looking really pathetic. The Woopie girl and sailor scene is priceless. Kind of like the 'O Brother Where Art Thou' guy to the left of the shiny ghost.
We never had store bought back then. With my uncle in charge every year, we all had over the top costumes. I remember being a Zulu warrior one year and a black widow spider the next.
Major, I think that kid in the blackface may really be black. The kid next to him with a stocking over his head is creepy.
Well done, thanks.

DrGoat said...

I guess that would be to the right of the shiny ghost.

Anonymous said...

Fun stuff, Major.

I remember one year I made a spaceman costume with a ice cream carton painted silver for my helmet.

Not as cool as the one Ken has in his avi pic, but similar.

Those were good times when all the costumes weren't "slutty _____" (insert description here).


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, now that everyone can go to their local Spirit Store and buy a $20 costume (complete with wig), it’s fun to see what people had to do 60+ years ago. It was a lot of work, and took a lot of creativity for sure. How come you know so much about microphones?

Lou and Sue, yes, those dimly-seen background characters are kind of creepy, like a ghost from one of those Japanese horror movies. “Shy Di”? I don’t get that reference, I am ashamed to admit. That really does look like a whoopie cushion to me, but I guess it could just be a purse!!

K. Martinez, those rubber masks are surprisingly spooky, with those big fried-egg eyes and misshapen visages. I agree that the darkness adds to the atmosphere, I just wish that the costumes could be seen better.

Lou and Sue, it’s not quite like Charlie Brown’s ghost, but it’s the next best thing.

K. Martinez, that was a classic!

Melissa, I wonder if that girl was wearing her father’s old Navy duds? It’s possible! It looks pretty baggy on her. I got store-bought costumes sometimes, other times I made one (with much help from my mom of course). These days when I answer the door for trick-or-treats, it’s amazing to see some of the same exact costumes over and over. Thanks for the link to that “Fifty Years Too Late” Tumblr, and your favorite!

TokyoMagic!, “Laughing Sal” is familiar to all of us, but probably pretty obscure to most people! I think that girl was just supposed to look freaky. I just watched a documentary about Frank Sinatra (on Netflix) and they show clips of his dance routine with Gene Kelly, I would be tired after that too.

Nanook, I can just hear it, “Now flip mommy the bird, honey!”.\

DrGoat, you’re right, that kid looks especially sad and pathetic. Perfect for picking pockets! The only reason I don’t think that the blackface kid could really be black is that every other photo I’ve seen in this batch shows exclusively white people! But I admit that I could be mistaken.

DrGoat, I knew what you meant!

JG, I had a friend who dressed as a spaceman, and his mom literally spray-painted a cheap long-sleeved shirt with silver paint. The thing was stiff as a board and looked a little weird, but in the dark it was still impressive. As a teenage boy I was all about the sexy costumes on the girls, but now I think that they can go a little overboard.

Melissa said...

DrGoat, totally agreed on the general creepiness. These kids look like they should be dancing off with Lord Summerisle to keep their appointment with the Wicker Man.

DrGoat said...

Melissa, No kidding. Glad our Halloween parties didn't look like this. That Hobo boy in the middle of the second image looks like the kid that went around beating up smaller kids in Junior High.
Do like the girl in the fourth pic. Cassiopeia with a magic wand.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, I do think that’s possibly a whoopie cushion, but the girl appears to also be holding something small, in that hand that’s resting on the whoopie cushion.

And Shy Di was Princess Diana’s original nickname - she made the same face as our sailor gal.

Fun post! Hey, Major, what will you be, this Halloween??

Melissa said...

Easiest costume? Slap on a goatee and go as Mirror Universe Major Pepperidge.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I’d say that the high “creepy” quotient means that those costumes are a success!

DrGoat, I’m guessing that Halloween parties haven’t looked like this… well, since the 1950s. However, with cosplay becoming such a big deal, I also know that there are some incredibly creative people who make amazing costumes for all sorts of occasions. It looks like fun!

Lou and Sue, I have no idea what that girl is holding in her hands. I’d guess “car keys” except she’s not of driving age. I wondered if “Shy Di” was Princess Diana, but am not aware of that particular nickname. I’m not much on following the shenanigans of the Royal Family. Er… I haven’t dressed up for Halloween for years! And I would assume that this October 31st will be a subdued affair. Will you be dressing up?

Melissa, after my dad died, my mom went on one date, and only one. A man invited her to a Halloween party. He wore a suit and tie. “I’m dressed as a gentleman”. We knew right then he had to go!

"Lou and Sue" said...

No, Major, I don't plan on dressing up for Halloween, this year. The one and only time I dressed up, as an adult, was about 30 years ago. I worked in an office and dressed up as a Christmas tree. I wore a black outfit and attached lots of green garland and a couple strings of lights - "draping" (and pinning) them around my entire body. I wore two ball ornaments for earrings and had a Christmas angel standing on my head. When I was seated at my desk I would plug in the lights and light up - even the angel on my head lit up. Yes, I have a picture to prove it. No, I won't send it to you to post.

JG said...

Sue, you and Tokyo need to talk. He was a Christmas Tree in a Disney parade. I think there are pictures on Meet The World.

That sounds like a great costume.


"Lou and Sue" said...

JG - thank you! A short while back, I did do some email "conversing" with TokyoMagic regarding his Christmas Tree [Disney parade] experience and really found it fun and fascinating. He has lots of great stories to share!