Halloween from the Past: Some of my favorite vintage Halloween toys!Posted on October 28th, 2009 6 comments
I love Halloween. Always have, since I was a crazy little kid. Dressing up and pretending to be someone (or something) else has always been a lot of fun for me, from theater to Halloween parties. But costumes are only one part of the whole Halloween gig. For All Hallow’s Eve to be truly exciting, you have to have the right toys.
If you were born before 1970, you probably remember that Halloween wasn’t always the mega-bucks commercialized holiday it is now. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…the commercialism of H’ween has produced some really spooky & kool decor and novelties at decent prices, from light-up skulls to talking life-sized monsters. But in the old days, Halloween was a simple, homey holiday. Most of the decorations that could be bought at the 5 and 10 were made of paper, thin plastic or tin, and didn’t last too long. Hell knows I tried to hang onto a lot of the old stuff, but cheap paper disintegrates after a few years. So it’s a pretty big deal to have something vintage for the season.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to hang onto a few things. My favorite is the mechanical Coffin Bank. I got this thing sometime in the early 1970’s, when Christopher Lee was Dracula and Dark Shadows was on every day at 4 o’clock. I was only about 4 or 5, but I remember knowing this was special. You’d wind it up, and put a penny on the coffin…then a spooky hand would come out from under the cover and grab the penny. I almost lost this thing in a box of stuff that was headed for the flea market some 20 years ago, and saved it at the last minute! (here’s a video of the coffin bank in action)
I was born in September, 1968, and for my first Halloween my Mother (who also lovvvved Halloween) bought me a set of Witch, Scarecrow &
Ghost candles. She kept them safe for me until I was old enough to keep them myself. Every year they get a place of honor among the Halloween decorations.
My Mother managed to hold onto one Halloween toy from her childhood…a tin litho Jack-o-Lantern, with a plastic whistle for a nose. She said she used to carry it around trick-or-treating to hold candy. I could only guess she emptied it out a lot and went back out, because it’s not very big!
After seeing the movie Beetlejuice, more than anything I wanted a
Handbook for the Recently Deceased. Well, as far as I know they never sold one as a promo, so a couple of years ago I put my graphic design skills to good use and made my own. Well, the cover, anyway. The rest of the book is a 1950’s Betty Crocker cookbook.
In 1976, our family took a trip to Orlando, Fl. We were living in cold, dank, dreary, icky South Jersey at the time, and the flowers and palms of the Southland beckoned us to stay. It would be another 24 years before I finally moved to FLA, but the memories of paradise (especially Disney World) stuck with us for a long time. My father was so enthralled by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride that he turned my bedroom into a Pirate Room, built me a Pirate Ship in the yard, and made
me a treasure chest to go with it, filled with trinkets and coins. The Pirate Ship fell apart years ago, but I managed to keep the Treasure Chest…and the Pirate Skull that hung on the front of the ship. Now, every year, they come out to play at Halloween as part of the decor!
This year, my Halloween Party’s theme was “Disco of Death”. I decorated the house like a 70’s disco, and wore a 70’s white tux and purple ruffled shirt as my costume. (My wife wore a disco dress and roller skates!) To make the party more authentic, I did some research on 1970’s partying, via Southern Comfort’s Happy Hour Mixology Guide & Primer
Of Happy Hour Astrology, c. 1972. This groovy little party pamphlet was not only printed in full vibrant color, but featured the latest and greatest hair styles, hip fonts, and drink recipes with a simple way to improve the flavor of any cocktail…by using Southern Comfort in place of rum, gin, vodka or rye! By the way…us vogue with Virgos, according to
this booklet, is the “Cold Toddy”…2 oz Scotch, 1 oz water & 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. All I can say is, what a great way to ruin good Scotch! (Of course they admit it would taste better with Southern Comfort!)
Well, that’s all for today kids. I’ve got some more fun Halloween stuff coming up this week, including a review on a smooth & spooky tequila that goes by the name of Voodoo Tiki Tequila. This is great stuff, and the bottle is the craziest, man! So until next time, have a spoooooky night, baby.
-“Halloween” Chris Pinto
roller skating is a very enjoying sports and past time too :
Don’t forget about the popular retro Halloween decorations too, many of which are featured at http://www.Retroween.com.
I can’t get over HANDBOOK for the Recently Deceased….awesome. Copyright Handbook for the recently deceased press! lol
Chris,you’re a kindred “spirit” (obligatory Halloween reference) with the community at Retroland.com. As someone born in 1967, your post was particularly resonant with me, and I bet you’d have a lot to contribute to the discussions at Retroland.
I won’t overload you with links, but recently in the TV section of the Retrotalk forums, we’ve been discussing the kitschy merits of the Paul Lynde Halloween Special!
You’ve got a great blog, and I really enjoyed the post — especially the video of the coffin bank (which I owned at one time!!)
Keep up the good work; hope to see you at Retroland.com!
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