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Haunted Air
October 25, 2011 2:06 PM   Subscribe

"The perishing of fabrics and the rotting of early rubber, due to chemical instabilities and damp conditions, create new and sinister, puzzling abnormalities. Time and repeated wear have caused a beautiful metamorphosis, never intended or imagined by the maker." Haunted Air: "A glimpse of how the old, weird America celebrated All-Hallows Eve."
posted by billypilgrim (24 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool link. It's a little weird how Halloween has become the second-most important holiday besides Christmas. There are at least four or five stores devoted to selling Halloween costumes in my little town, and costumes usually average 30 or 40 bucks.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:09 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live right across the bridge from Salem, MA, which at this point is 24-hour Halloween Madness. Looking back on these photographs and comparing them to the Mardi Gras-style holiday it is today is very curious.
posted by billypilgrim at 2:16 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a little weird how Halloween has become the second-most important holiday besides Christmas.

And we won't stop until it's taken its rightful place as first.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:16 PM on October 25, 2011 [18 favorites]


I love Halloween. It's a fun holiday with none of the obligations or religious baggage. As a kid you get to eat tons of candy and dress up in an awesome costume and it's one of the few nights you were allowed to go out at night with just your friends at that age. And when you were a teenager you got to get up to all kinds of mischief and the consequences were negligible, because hey, it's Halloween. As an adult, you get to go out with your kids who look super cute in their little costumes, or else you get to go to a grown-up party and get dressed up like and idiot and drink all night. I am officially stoked for this weekend's Halloween parties.
posted by Hoopo at 2:17 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was a kid when I first saw Meet Me in St. Louis, and I had no context whatsoever for its depiction of turn-of-the-century Halloween: children, dressed in cloth masks and their parents' castoffs, burning furniture in the street.
posted by Iridic at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


KILLING ME WON'T BRING BACK YOUR GODDAMN HONEY!
posted by Navelgazer at 2:34 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


(Sorry, I realize now how out-of-context that must seem, but I just got a real nicholas-cage-wicker-man vibe from these photos for some reason)
posted by Navelgazer at 2:36 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


and costumes usually average 30 or 40 bucks.

I usually pay at least that, but I never buy a store-bought costume. It's all about getting creative and building one of your own. Since moving to Vancouver my best have been Ash from Evil Dead 2 (complete with chainsaw hand and shotgun I built out of random stuff from Canadian Tire) and Jambi from Peewee's Playhouse. That one took some work. I've got an easier one ready for this year already, but next year I'm going big again and I already know what it's going to be.
posted by Hoopo at 2:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The whole reason Michael Meyers was so angry is he secretly wanted to be Laurie Strode.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:40 PM on October 25, 2011


Halloween not religious? Well, at least not yet.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:05 PM on October 25, 2011


Shades of The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater. Also, I really like the phrase "Old, Weird America."
posted by Drab_Parts at 3:07 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


And we won't stop until it's taken its rightful place as first.

David Skal, Stephen Nissenbaum, and others argue that Christmas and Halloween have much more in common than we now generally think - that each was originally an anarchic, pagan holiday and that the social inversion / prank elements of each served as a playing at class warfare, a social safety valve, and ultimately a way to preserve rural economic hierarchies. Both were also forcibly tamed and commercialized at the end of the 19th c. by elite demands for order in US cities, since their original function ended, and the class struggle became more intense and brutal with industrialization and urban anonymity.

I had no context whatsoever for its depiction of turn-of-the-century Halloween: children, dressed in cloth masks and their parents' castoffs, burning furniture in the street.

Meet Me in St. Louis also includes the one depiction I've seen in a movie of a very old Halloween prank: hitting people with bags full of flour. This was one of the traditions, along with gate stealing, throwing rocks and cabbages at windows and doors, and sign stealing, stamped out by the police ca. 1900.

Two more vintage Halloween galleries: 1, 2.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:11 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


throwing rocks and cabbages at windows and doors, and sign stealing, stamped out by the police ca. 1900

I can assure you that sign stealing and throwing stuff at houses is very much NOT stamped out by police despite their efforts.
posted by Hoopo at 3:16 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how the costumes get creepier the more low-tech they are.
posted by jonp72 at 3:32 PM on October 25, 2011


For extra bonus awesomeness, the photographs in the original link were assembled by Ossian Brown, best known for his work in occult/techno act Coil.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's time for the old school burlap potato sack-as-scarecrow mask to make a comeback.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like these pictures, but the quotes are annoyingly self-important and silly:

"Wolf-Man, child-wraith, witch-wife, ghoul. Playful monsters. Familiar familiars, all strangely innocent, they caper, amuse, reassure. But as the eye is drawn closer, as the eye is set to wander - thorns in the cloth; ticks in the fur; weevils in the flour. A child's frantic distress."

— Geoff Cox


Dude we are talking about a kid who probably kept eggs under his bed for two months to ensure their rottenness before leaving them under the neighbor's welcome mat.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:42 PM on October 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm certainly sharing this post with my French husband who refuses to dress up for Halloween, or even to acknowledge it as the best holiday ever (it's like Christmas with candy instead of presents and fun costumes instead of awkward conversations with the in-laws). So help me I will don my Blue Meanie costume even if it means the French think I'm batshit insane for one lovely evening.
posted by Mooseli at 3:55 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoopo: "I love Halloween. It's a fun holiday with none of the obligations or religious baggage. "

NOT IF JESUSWEEN HAS ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT
posted by Rhaomi at 4:04 PM on October 25, 2011


While they were eating, Jesus took the peanut M&Ms, gave thanks and wrapped them in tiny packages, and gave them to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
posted by Hoopo at 4:11 PM on October 25, 2011


Halloween was fun when I was a kid, but that wore off when I was able to buy candy anytime with my own money. These pictures bring back some of that, the fun of just throwing something together and getting candy for it.

As a (putative) adult, I just can't get into Halloween. I don't have kids, don't drink, and don't like parties; my house doesn't get trick-or-treaters. I like looking at the costumes and stuff, but I haven't figured out a way to celebrate that doesn't feel fundamentally silly.
posted by MrVisible at 4:14 PM on October 25, 2011


I've seen a couple other collections of old halloween (Library of Congress stuff on Flickr maybe?), and I can never get enough. The photos and costumes are so creepy and wonderful, and it makes me wish I lived more fully in the old, weird america.
posted by gofargogo at 4:30 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


...Christmas and Halloween have much more in common than we now generally think...

Which probably goes a long way to explain why every time I explain the notion of Krampusnacht to someone they think it's the coolest idea ever.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:20 AM on October 26, 2011


Back in the 80's, it was weird when friends in Michigan were dressing up for Halloween...at work. Then that spread beyond the Midwest. Now I get to watch to see how much Halloween will be noticed in Europe. Not much, last year in Switzerland.
posted by Goofyy at 3:03 AM on October 26, 2011


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