Old-Fashioned Halloween Fun

Jack-O'-Lantern by Edna Barth, illustrated by Paul Galdone.
A Clarion Book / Seabury Press, 1974.

I love old-fashioned Halloween spookiness. I do love a retro/vintage aesthetic. Reading and watching films and clips from Halloweens past, well before my time, is one of my favorite ways to spend October. Thanks to YouTube, I've been able to find many of the clips used in the old '90s History Channel doc, "A Haunted History of Halloween," and I've checked out most of the old books available in my library. 

This weekend, we carved our giant orange pumpkin, in what must be one of the most old-fashioned Halloween pastimes. [Well, not that old-fashioned, perhaps. This post by Atlas Obscura showed up in my Facebook feed today.] To celebrate the occasion, we read this 1970s book, telling the story of mean old Jack, who tricked St. Peter into granting him three wishes. Three very mean wishes, making Jack meaner than the Devil himself. So mean, in fact, that neither St. Peter nor the Devil will accept him after his death, leaving him to roam the earth with his lantern. In this book, it's a pumpkin, but in the afternote, Barth does mention that the original folktellers used a turnip.You can read about the original legend here or here.

Here is our Jack O' Lantern, loosely inspired by Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz. I attempted this on my blue pumpkin, seen in the center. Blues are just not the right shape, I think. And here are some pumpkin guts and seeds.

We gave Jack an LED strobe light this year.

Someday, I long to have a bigger, much older house, and I will be as seasonally obnoxious as my family will allow. I adore old Dennison and Beistle decorations, and long to collect antique Halloween decor. For now, I settle for my reproduction Beistle die-cuts. I won a set of 1920s die-cuts, which are hanging in the front room window.

My 1950s repros are clothespinned every year to some twine, along with a collection of vintage plastic masks from the '60s. They hang in the knotty pine family room.

Little Sis's collection of doll parts goes nicely with our branch tree and its homemade ornaments - jar lids with prints of old Halloween cards pasted inside - and this year, I added some glass bottles from the craft store, covered with free printable apothecary labels.

I'm loving this book, too. Big Sis found it at the library. It's called Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past. The book gathers old graphics, articles, and ideas from books and magazines. Most were printed before 1930.

Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past by Diane C. Arkins. Pelican Publishing Company, 2004.

Some Vintage Halloween Link Love

Hope you enjoyed this post! My computer was running so slow, I feel as if this is the only thing I've done all day. 


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  1. Wonderful post! I need some time to delve into those links... I love your decorations! Honestly, that collection of doll parts must be the most original collection I've seen a little girl have :) It sure goes nicely with the branch tree and the vintage masks and the bottles.
    Your Jack-o-lantern is beautiful! We made another one yesterday, even worse than the first one :o) The girls drew the features and I cut them out -rectangle eyes, two tiny nostrils and only two square teeth. haha
    I haven't watched Meet Me in St Louis in a long time... I've missed that movie, it's a great one! I need to watch it again asap.

    1. It's such a wonderful movie, right? I love Jack-o-lanterns period. Nothing can be worse than the turnip jack-o-lanterns! :D

      Little Sis's 1st grade teacher gave her plastic doll arms and legs from the craft store for her birthday last year. That's a teacher who pays attention! Her own kids thought she was crazy, but she told them, no really! She'll love these!


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