Friday, September 30, 2011



I brought the mail in my house yesterday and tossed it in the catch-all basket where we put junk mail until we both have a look at it. Today, I sorted through the junk mail and found a multi-page catalog for one of those Halloween stores that seem to come and go in the night. You know…here today and gone tomorrow. Or, maybe that is a big city thing…


I glanced through the pages. There was page after page of Halloween costumes for children and adults. The prices range from $9.99 to $59.99. The costumes were everything from a lady bug to a very realistic police officer uniform. (Am I the only one who sees something wrong with that????)

Shewweee…. That got my old mind to spinning…

Back in the day, very few kids had the luxury of a store-bought Halloween costume. I remember the excitement as the holiday approached. The question of the day was “What are you going to be for Halloween?” Every self-respecting kid already knew the answer and believe me, it was not any one of the popular TV characters like SpongeBob Squarepants or Elmo or some super hero. clip_image003 No…our costumes were always homemade out of old clothes, scraps of material or a sheet with holes cut for the eyes. We were ghosts, hobo’s, pirates, witches…you get the pic? Oldsters will know exactly what I’m talking about. You younger people may have a bit of a problem grasping this concept….

So then…..
A kid with a clever Mom, like mine, might be a spaceman or a ballerina… I was a black cat once. All that was required was a black leotard and imagination. Some ears and a tail were fashioned from black satin and my whiskers were drawn on with an eyebrow pencil. clip_image002My mask was the simple black mask for upper face. Another time, I was a hobo in one of my Dad’s old shirts and pants. A rope held the way-too-big pants up and a beat up old hat was found for me by my Grandpa.  A bandana stuffed with wadded up newspaper and tied to a stick completed the look. Of course my face was “filthy” with charcoal.
I could go on and on about different costumes we made with or without assistance from our Mom, but that’s not the point. My point is this… We were healthy, happy kids back in the day. We didn’t get something as frivolous as a store-bought costume. Hardly anyone bought a Halloween costume. Half the fun of Halloween was to decide what we would be then make our own costume. We used our imagination and we could be anything we wanted to be. If a little boy wanted to be Superman, well then…he went trick-or-treating in his favorite Superman PJ’s with some red cloth tied around his neck for a cape. What’s wrong with that?

I don’t think children today exercise their imagination like children did back when I was a kid. We did things like color in coloring books, finger paint, play games, create things out of clay – and it wasn’t Play Dough… No siree… Our clay was grey and hard to use until we worked it over with our warm little hands. We didn’t sit in front of a TV all day because back then, all we could see was a test pattern all day until 5 pm when television “came on”. Then we had the Mickey Mouse club at 5 pm, then the news, some evening shows and the broadcast day ended with a variety show where a cigarette packclip_image004 with beautiful legs danced around the stage. I wasn’t allowed to watch that, but I peeked. Hee hee… Then the television went “off” until the next day at 5 pm.  I sure wanted to have that cigarette pack for a Halloween costume!
Were we bored? No way! We played outside for hours every day and played inside when the weather was bad. In our imaginations, we were cowboys and Indians riding imaginary horses. Or we played physical games like Red Rover or King on the Mountain, hopscotch and the like. We used our imaginations and we exercised our growing bodies. I have nothing but fond memories of such a childhood.

I see kids today who are pudgy from lack of exercise and poor eating habits. Most need to be entertained by something…TV, video games and the like. When I was a kid, I got entertained with the Mickey Mouse Club before mostly adult programming was broadcast. One night a week, I got to see Kukla, Fran & Ollie. That is all. The rest of the time, I was tortured by fresh air, exercise and my imagination…

Oh…and Grimm’s Fairytales…

That is what REAL kids do…or used to back in the day. I’d love to see some real kids. Have you seen any lately?

By Darlene Cirinna
©September 30, 2011
All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.
Photos from Photobucket, public domain.


  1. Very nice story. I enjoyed reading it. And no I haven't seen any real kids lately either.

  2. Great memories and excellent points! I do have 2 grand daughters who play outside and do actual physical things, but they are also gamers. Don't see a lot of real kid imagination these days because we give them the 'real' thing. Too bad we do that. Really.

  3. Hi, Clifford. I'm so happy to see you here. I had no idea you read my blogs. I hope you like them.

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  4. @ Jo: I have been noticing for quite a while that there are more overweight children than there used to be. It's one thing to gain weight in older years, but to see a child with a weight problem just makes me want to shake some sense into the parents.

    It's funny in a sad sort of way, but I found myself thinking yesterday that maybe this current economy will cause parents to spend less on "entertaining" their children and send them outside to play more often. I remember back in the early 70's, our TV broke and with 2 small children, there was no extra money to buy a new TV. So...we went without TV for several months. Instead, we played games both inside and out. We grew to enjoy ourselves and each other. After that long and how happy we were, I didn't care if we got another TV or not. Of course we did eventually find the money for the new TV....and I was sad to see the family fun end......

  5. I agree with you completely about kids not knowing how to be real kids. My kids look at me like I am on drugs if I want them to go outside and make up games,G-d forbid! When I tell then that I never had video games when I was a kid, they look at me like I am from another planet. I have fixed them on several occasions and packed up the video games and put them out of sight and out of reach. I heard a few squawks, but after a while...they found ways to have fun without television and video games. Imagine that! Wonderful blog Darlene. I really loved this one!!


  6. I, like Kathy, had to put away the video games and block the channels on the TV to force my kids to do something else. However, this last summer, I could not get my son to go outside all summer long. It was frustrating. All he would do was sit around and whine about not having anything to do. When I would tell him to go outside, he'd whine about it being too hot. (we do live in Alabama) Lately, he's taken a liking to WWE and been watching old clips that people have posted on youtube. This last week, he's been telling me about a neighborhood "WWE championship" competition that he's been playing in. I was so proud he was playing like that. Yesterday, he said he lost the championship because his last opponent tooted in his face. I guess you have to use whatever resources you can muster when you're the smaller child. LOL. But I remember days of playing "Dukes of Hazard" or something similar when I was younger, so it touched me that my son was fashioning a game after something he saw like his mommy used to do.

    Well, all that to say, I loved your post!

  7. @ Kathy: LOL @ you hiding the games. So, did you replace them with a jump rope, jacks, marbles and a hoola hoop? Those are the kinds of things I had to play with back in the day. And, in the absence of a toy, we simply took a rock and drew a hopscotch pattern on the ground.

    @ Angie: A kid pooted in your son's face??? Ewwww...... How awful! I would be getting even if I was him. LOL As for how hot it is in AL, I live in FL...tell me about it! And, I don't remember it being this hot when I was a kid. In fact, I never gave heat a thought until I was 32 and only then because that is the summer that heat first began to bother me. I was like "What the heck is THIS???" hahaha

    Sadly, I had an example that prompted me to write this blog. I've been noticing that more and more children are soft and pudgy than ever before. I worry about their future health with such a sedentary life style. You gotta get that cardio up regardless of your age! VERY, VERY important!

  8. Nice memories. And it's a sad truth, kids are not the same as when I was a kid. When we got home from school, mom would send us outside to play before we had to start homework. No TV, video games, etc.

  9. Exactly, Langley. I think that "go outside and play" translated to: "get off from under my feet until supper is ready". LOL... Then after supper we wanted to watch TV, but I can still hear my Mom say "Is your homework done?' or "Not until you finish your homework". I believe kids of yesteryear were more disciplined. I knew better than to ask for TV before homework was done and if I "forgot", well then, Mom always said "You know better, Darlene". hahaha

  10. I LOOOOVE IT!!!! I am kind of sandwiched in between generations-- the DIY stuff from yours and the commercialism of the younger contemporaries. It seems that minimalism is a bad word nowadays (or maybe there's too many syllables in "minimalism"-- go figure). I also am concerned with the lack of physical activity with kids nowadays and even though there was no Nitendo Wii back in the day in which you can be physicall active and do video games. You know what though; a day at the park or playing in the backyard has no REAl substitute!