Sept/Oct 2008


"'I am about to relive childhood vicariously through my own child, and I have no idea what sort of adventure that's going to be...'

So said I just two short months ago and Yes! As my mother has already alluded to, it has happened!!! I am at a rather advanced age a brand new father!"

So said I just over a year ago! I now naturally have a bit more of an idea of just what sort of adventure it is, as I'm living it now. And, as all proud fathers will tell you, it is indescribably wonderful, mindboggling and joyful, and is absolutely not recommended for anyone who enjoys sleep...

I seem to recall also saying that around age two my daughter would discover the word "no".

Well, that's just happened — a year early. And not only does this possible future thespian delight in regaling all of us with her proficient ability to shout "NO" over and over again, but she has taken to making the most monstrous of angry little faces to accompany said exclamations.

Ah, daddy's girl...

Anyway, little Clara was a bat for Halloween 2007. This year, I'm pretty sure she's going to be a Wonder Pet. And I cannot as a result help but recall my own treasured recollections of this most delightful of holidays.

My only Canoga Park memory of Halloween is from 1960 — we were about to move to a mysterious place called the "South Bay" and I remember wondering if they even had trick-or-treating there.

Naturally, they did, and it was wonderful. I remember one neighbor who would film their ghoulish visitors yearly, and come next Halloween the home movies of the previous year's festivities would be screened on a window next to the front door — which would of course have been far more interesting if any of us could ever remember what costume we'd worn the previous year.

I remember a classmate from elementary school who would always bring in a wonderful looking record put out by the "Famous Monsters of Filmland" people, and every year we would wait with baited breath to listen to what wondrous horrific incantations were sure to emanate from the turntable — and every year we would end up scratching our heads, since the record was essentially indecipherable — you really could not tell what those people were talking about!

I finally found that record a few years ago, and it's true — the thing is impossible to comprehend...

My last childhood memory of Halloween remains the most poignant, and involves my Mom (Sheryl to you). It was Halloween of 1971, and I was going out with a couple of friends to seek out parties. I was in my early teens, and my parents had given me very reluctant permission to do so, but it was clear that they were not altogether happy about it.

At any rate, while waiting for my friends to arrive, I was listening to the radio on headphones. Dad had just upgraded to stereo, and in those days I would spend a lot of time listening to the "alternate rock" FM stations.

The station I tuned into was not playing its ordinary fare. Instead, I was treated to eerie music, punctuated by the sound of some ghastly old hags reciting the witch scene from "Macbeth", and giving way to a most amusingly sinister sounding Vincent Price, who proceeded to elaborate lovingly on the ancient rites of witchcraft...

I was, as I said, in my early teens, and spooky Halloween stuff was definitely for the younger set, and yet — well, I was moved, and intrigued, and all I wanted to do was listen and explore and give in to my "childish" desire to indulge in the spookier aspects of the holiday.

Mom accosted me shortly thereafter, informing me that I could still elect to stay at home. I naturally refused — I was a teenager, I had a world to figure out, I had mySELF to figure out, I had to get out there and be cool...

And I have never told her, so she is reading and learning this right now (which is highly appropriate as I am now dealing with my own child who is easily as stubborn and sensitive as I was) — but:

Mom, you don't even know how much I secretly wanted to stay home that night, and NOT be cool and NOT go out gallivanting, but only stay home, make popcorn, see the trick-or-treaters, watch something scary on tv...

Oh, that would have been heaven! I wanted to tell you then, but, being 15, couldn't.

I always think of that night at this time of year.

And, for the record, I had a really boring evening going out...

And I hope Clara June reads this before she hits her teens and learns from Daddy's mistakes.

And I hope you all have the most wonderful Halloween ever, and we'll see you in November!

—Joe Nolte