Thrills and Chills on Catalpa Corner



Halloween 2019 brought 80-95 trick or treaters (depending on who is counting in our neighborhood). Reaching this number took years of planning and preparation…and building a reputation as the house that gives away full size candy bars.  With three flights of stairs to our front door, we had to offer some extra incentives.

When we moved in to this neighborhood in 1992, nothing was going on so Michele and I started up annual celebrations: summer block party with movie nights, Memorial Day and Labor Day pancake breakfasts, Christmas caroling, pumpkin carving and Halloween decorating.  Our first few Halloweens lured only a handful of children so we decided to up the game. Michele came up with a ghost theme for the neighborhood and not just any ghosts, but those from history and literature that haunt one’s memories: Miss Haversham from Great Expectations, The Headless Horsemen from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Bloody Mary, Freda Kahlo among others.  Neighbors generously donated their yards for the sets and pitched in to help create the scenes.

With styrofoam heads from Joanne’s and cheap wigs and some clothing from Display and Costume, the characters emerged.  Michele created various outfits and sets.  I was the make-up artist.  I learned with time that I could mold the styrofoam just enough to develop brows, distinct noses, high cheekbones, unique lips and chins.   A touch of red around the neck, across the face and voila, decapitated heads.


Red ribbon works marvelously as spurting blood. I was inspired by Caravaggio’s Judith and Holofernes – a gruesome depiction of sweet revenge.

Warning the image is graphic and is rated PG.






You might be thinking this will give little children nightmares and permanently damage them with PTSD.   This is nothing compared to the images brought to us down from the medieval ages – images of tortured saints that we were exposed to in Spain.  Those museums and churches don’t offer any warning about the gory details.   Think of what the naive children of the 15th century Catholic world had to suffer when instructed on the lives of the Saints.

Lady Haversham is not designed to scare…only haunt with the image of a jilted bride and her lust for revenge.

And Freda Kahlo…well if you don’t  know the back story of her being impaled in a bus accident and spending years recovering and incorporating her damaged frame into her imagery…well then you may lose the reference to the horror of survival.

Our headless horseman has moved between trees over time but is lit to startle the young and amuse the old, riding on the black horse and tossing the pumpkin through the air.


Next year who should appear?  I believe that Long John Silver may shiver a few timbers. So a fair warning to all, he may be handing out the black spot.  Be afraid…be Very Afraid.

About Whittoons

Cartoonist, and community organizer who has covered the globe as a doodlebugger, gandydancer, supernumerary steward, Able Bodied Seaman, Wireman, monkey man, Night Baker and dishwasher, Hobo, hitchhiker and husband.
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