Halloween Nostalgia

by on Mar.16, 2011, under Gothic Holiday Exclusive Blogs, Halloween

 

Everything old is new again…

Nostalgia never seems to go out of style.

Words like retro and vintage get tossed around these days to describe a wide variety of things – from design to art to clothing to automobiles. Be it lava lamps or paisley shirts or bakelite radios or jet packs, there is an undeniable appeal to things that so easily spark our memories of what was, or what was one day to be. Something as simple as an old atomic clock can transport us to another time and place, when life seemed so simplistic and we knew exactly what we wanted to be when we grew up (rock star, thank you very much). Truth be told, however, in many cases we seem to fondly remember a past that never actually was, so much as was perceived. The promise of that bright future ahead was intoxicating at times – who didn’t long for the day when we could control our entire life from our wristwatch (granted, we do it from our phones now, but the allure was was very much the same)? I had already decided on the color and options of my flying car at a tender young age, yet I’ve yet to actually order it. Still, every time I see a set of fins on a car I find myself back in my room at age ten, scouring hot rod magazines by flashlight and plotting my midnight flight over the city in my Futuramobile 5000 (yeah, I named it as well). Nostalgia, it seems, is our purest form of magic – it transcends space and time with little to no effort.

Halloween decorations have that same affect on me. I doubt I’d ever be able to explain why vintage Halloween items excite me so – obviously I have an innate love of the season, but to this day no other holiday ephemera latches on to my spirit quite like the orange and black bric-a-brac of Halloweens gone by…

For me, the paper window decorations of the 50s and 60s are the cherry on the top of an All Hallow’s sundae. Those brightly festive – yet somehow unsettling – cutout faces and characters used to push ALL the right buttons for me. Be it a mischievous winking monacle-wearing gentleman cat, a leering red devil, a goofy jack-o-lantern, or a green-skinned old hag of a witch, if I saw those beauties scotch-taped in a home’s windows I knew there was a kindred spirit within, one more soul who cherished the spectacular final day of October. They stood as an open invitation to share my love of the day, an inexpensive welcome mat beckoning me forth to ring the bell, hold open my pillowcase and wait for the avalanche of sweets to begin!

You can find modern imitations of these classic gems if you look around each year, but I prefer to hunt down the genuine article. I love a piece with pedigree – some secret history held within, storing years of Halloween memories like a tiny paper vault. Holding an original vintage decoration turns on the faucet of the mind, giving me an opportunity to imagine that particular household’s traditions and experiences, and meld them into my own, again creating that past that never actually was, but is perceived. Magic!

There are some fine sites on the web for finding images of these wonderful relics, and a few that actually sell them. In this modern day of computers and such, it would take no real effort to recreate your own window hangings with these pictures, with a couple clicks and an inexpensive printer. Or, if you’re like me, you can use them as a catalog for keeping up with your treasure hunt. Either way, they’re spectacular fun to explore.

Here are a few of my own favorites, most of which at one time or another hung in my childhood home (or one of the surrounding neighbor’s home). Take a peek and see if they transport you…


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