Chesapeake Bay's Independent Newspaper ~ Since 1993

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Volume XVII, Issue 44 ~ October 29 - November 4, 2009

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Bay Reflections

We Made a Big Thing of Halloween

by Lill Caplins

Halloween has always been one of our favorite times of the year. My Lithuanian-born mother made a big thing of this holiday. One year she made us look like Little Women with beautiful homemade dresses with pantaloons and petticoats.

When I married, my husband would go to a masquerade only if he was certain to win first prize. This required weeks of planning, designing and preparation. Purchased outfits were not for us.

Our neighborhood group decided the eight of us would go to the community Halloween party as hillbillies. Appropriate clothes of the time and era were collected. The woman blackened some front teeth, braided their hair into pigtails and dressed in clodhopper shoes and gingham clothes. The men dressed in worn overalls and straw hats, and were barefooted. 

We decided to arrive late, making a noisy entrance into the hall. On a signal, we barged in loudly. With noise and commotion, our spokesman cleared a table of all its decorations. Then with mountain exclamations and sweeping arms, the men declared a still needed to be positioned hayr. Fake fire was ignited under a copper kettle filled with dry ice, making steam come out of the coils in the still. Hillbilly dancing music began at our request, and we twirled and danced to the music. The hall was alive with clomping and stomping of feet.

For the Halloween costume parade, the judges had us march in a circle. One of our country boys threw a rubber chicken in the air, and another shot it down.

On the stage, the judges requested the hillbillies come front and center. Never in the history of their contest, the announcer proclaimed, had it been necessary to award a group prize. Unprepared, they came up with a suitable gift. The prize was one dozen radiator caps for our cars. Our leader declined, politely informing them the prize was far too valuable to accept.

We donated it back for the next year, when we took the radiator caps home.

An 85-year-old retired nurse living in Huntingtown, Lillian Caplins recalls her life stories in Elisavietta Ritchie’s Creative Memoir Writing workshop.