I was lookin’ through old photo albums the other day, when I come across this Halloween gem. I don’t know what Irene and me were supposed to be, but it must have been some cold and crappy out. Check out the winter coats and boots. If you look close, you can see Irene has a knit hat on behind her cat mask. Maybe that’s why she’s holding it up, instead
of wearin’ it. (That mask was probably a tight fit with the hat on.) I think I see the hint of a hood behind my mask. And what’s up with Irene’s cape, with the dancing circus dogs on it? My biggest concern when I look at this picture, though, is how come Irene has a bigger bag than I do? What gives?
Clearly, these costumes were thrown together at the last minute. Maybe my parents were too busy with other stuff. Did they think (rightfully) we were too young to know the difference between a cool costume and just whatever was handy on top of winter clothes? Or did we plan to be our usual standbys, a princess (me) and a gypsy (Irene), but there was a snow storm, and our folks had to come up with somethin’ quick? ‘Cause let me tell you, it’s a real fashion quandary, trick or treatin’ as a princess in the freezing rain. Rubber boots and a rain slicker just kind of ruin the look, you know?
More perplexin’ still, is that my mother wrote on the back (must have been later on) that I was 3 years, 5 months, and Irene was 1 year, 5 months. There’s no way Irene is only one and a half in this picture. I think it’s more likely that I was five and she was three. Both our birthdays are both in May, so the five month part is right.
And what if these kids aren’t even Irene and me? I mean, it’s hard to tell. They must be us if they’re in our photo album. But, who knows? Maybe our dad took a picture of some friends of ours, and after it was developed, tucked it into a shoe box with other photos. And later, when Mom went to put it in an album, she just assumed it was Irene and me, wrote how old she thought we were on the back, stuck it into them little tab things and called it a day.
But let’s take it on faith that this is Irene and me. I can tell we’re standing in Blue’s General Store in Mahoosuc Mills; I recognize the scale behind Irene. It’s that old kind you put a penny in, weigh yourself, and it’s too big to argue with! You can’t see it here, but in the corner to the right is a machine with peanuts in it. Remember those? Again, you put a penny in, turn the crank, hold a paper bag underneath and it’s filled with peanuts. Not them dry roasted peanuts, either. The machine was coated with salt where the peanuts came out, and your bag would develop these little grease spots in seconds. And off to the left is a cooler filled with soda: grape, orange, strawberry, root beer, cream. Irene and me would drink them out of straws; you know, the kind that collapse after a while?
Best of all, behind the person taking the picture, what Irene and me are looking at are two glass fronted, wooden cases filled with penny candy. I’m talkin’ real penny candy: Mary Janes, Squirrels, Root Beer Barrels, Mint Juleps, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Coconut Watermelon and Bacon Strips, Malted Milk Balls, Sweet Tarts, Chocolate Babies, Sugar Daddys, Red and Black Licorice Whips, Hot Balls, wow! Every trick or treater’s dream come true!
So when I look at this picture, what I know for sure is that under those cheap, hard -to-see-in, hard-to-breath-in, funky smellin’ masks are two hopeful, determined, young faces, looking to score a bag full of treats. And we’re not about to let any snow, slush or freezin’ rain stand in our way!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
Ida/Susan in your neck of the woods!
Reading and Signing: "Finding Your Inner Moose"
Longfellow Books, 1 Monument Way, Portland, Maine
I’ll be traveling around quite a bit in the next few months, so check back here each Monday for where I’ll be that week, or click on the “Where’s Ida” link to the left to see my full schedule.
If you’d like me to do a reading at your library, organization or what not, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line:
And if your book group wants to read Finding Your Inner Moose, I’d love to be part of the discussion. Especially if food’s involved!