Tail of the Weak 3.43
Updated: Jan 25
Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.
As holiday family traditions go, none are more frightening than the one involving a big, bearded man in red clothes sliding secretly into your house at night, right? Second to that would have to be Easter. I never trusted cute, fuzzy little bunnies—they can turn on you in a heartbeat. Next in line, Halloween—when ghosts, goblins, and witches hover around your doorstep constantly wanting more - more - more.
The origins of Halloween date back more than 2,000 years ago to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) when the Druids built large, sacred bonfires; and, everyone wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. Over time, the holiday underwent changes due to the blending of traditions, cultures, and religions; and, by the 1800s, trick-or-treating was a popular practice in America.
In the 1920s and 1930s—around about the time my folks were children—Halloween was a secular holiday firmly centered around the community. A generation later, it was clearly aimed at the youngsters of the baby boom, who dressed in flammable outfits and caroused the neighborhoods with bags full of
Candy Cigarettes, Wowee Wax Whistles, Nik-L-Nips, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Atomic Fireballs, Tootsie Roll Pops, Popcorn Balls without razor blades, and Life Savers—which may or may not have come in handy if you had eaten a Popcorn Ball with a razor blade stuffed inside.
Seems most everyone since the early decades of last century enjoy the candy-conscious, costume-crazy celebration, passing the love of it down to their kids and on and on. One of my earliest Halloween recollections is of dressing like a clown in a simple, store-bought costume and mask in 1958 Tripoli, Libya, where Daddy was stationed with the Air Force.
I really fell into it as an adult, dressing up like the Pink Panther or Tom Petty and winning several costume contests along the way.
I made sure my young children got into the swing of the October holiday as well. Even before my daughter Megan was able to participate, we decorated the yard in full, fall fashion with leafy graves and homemade headstones:
Poor, old Sarah—She's gone up yonder
Went to Beirut—And the terrorists bombed her
On Megan's first Halloween, her mother and I dressed her as a clown—makeup on the face with a little, curly wig. She was loving it until we took her to the mirror to show her the results. She screamed like Jamie Lee Curtis at the lipsticked reflection screaming back at her. Well, maybe next year, then.
My son, Connor, born ten years after Megan, fell right into the costumed clown image, which has dominated the Griffin household as a rite of passage since my young days. His mama, Lynne, is quite handy with an artist's eye and attention to detail, especially when it comes to her favorite holiday. Through the years, she fashioned our son in the persona of the Wizard of Oz scarecrow, Thomas the Tank train engineer, and Mickey Mouse.
Like me, Connor's love for costumes carried over into adulthood, where he's been spotted as Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses, Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, John Lennon, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, or Lurch from The Addams Family. Once upon a Halloween, he smudged a beard on his face, donned my black western jacket, old straw cowboy hat, and went to the local bar as Uncle Dave. Talk about scary!
My other sons, Justin and Matt Johnson, made their late Eighties Halloween debut as Leonardo and Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in costumes hand-sewn by Lynne's mama, Evelyn McLeod.
Out of all our children, Megan and Justin now have kids of their own. Wyatt, Hannah, and little Millie are bona fide trick-or-treaters. With parents like Uncle Werewolf and Supergirl, I would expect nothing less.
American Spirit: Uncle Dave and The Younguns Download or Buy
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
#Halloween #TripoliLibya #PinkPanther #TomPetty #JamieLeeCurtis #WizardofOz #ThomastheTank #MickeyMouse #DavidBowie #ZiggyStardust #JohnLennon #TheAddamsFamily #AxlRose #GunsNRoses #RockyHorrorPictureShow #TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles #UncleWerewolf #Supergirl