I was about 7 when I ‘went’ as the cowardly lion in a homemade Halloween costume. And the part that matters is that my mom helped me make my tail.
I grew up in the country on an old farm with a yard that was pure mud for the first years my parents owned it. Today, the place is paradise. Developers chomping at the bit to plow under any residual farm land and throw up houses made of tick tacky. There’s money in them thar hills for sure.
But not back then. Back then, the house was isolated. There was the farmer across the road, the neighbors next door with their ‘new-ish’ ranch-style house. And, up the road a ways, another neighbor.
Trick-or-treating was a lonely endeavor. We held hands in the dark and skipped to the ditch whenever a car came by. It was definitely scary, so I guess at least that part worked.
I don’t have city memories with piles of candy and running up and down the streets trying to decide which houses deserved to be slathered in toilet paper. Though we did have the requisite neighbor who passed out raisins every year. Sunmaid in little red boxes, no joke.
When I turn to Halloween memories – dig my hand down into the pumpkin mush as it were – I come up with – the Cowardly Lion. One year we were invited to a party at the neighbors up the road. And I wore a big itchy fake fur cap with paper ears pinned to it, and a tail.
Like I said; the tail is what matters. My mom helped me make it.
My mother had eight children in 11 years with one set of twins in the middle (and two miscarriages along the way). She was pregnant a lot. And distracted. And overwhelmed – can I say? – most of the time.
This meant she had a gaggle of small kids getting ready for this party; fighting and making costumes. It also meant it was a big deal to get her help on mine.
What we did is we took a nylon stocking and stuffed it with crumpled up paper. Simple. Then, she knelt down in the back hall of that big old drafty farmhouse and she pinned it on. It dragged on the ground, so she showed me how I could hold on to it. “Like the cowardly lion! Right?”
And I was invincible striding down that dark highway, my perfect tail swishing along behind.
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