A Halloween photo from 1992.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

This one was good for 1174.


No, it’s not mine. I do not know these people.

I bought the photo from someone on eBay of all places. It spoke to me in ways even my own photos rarely do.

It’s from 1992, and it perfectly encapsulates the Halloweens of my childhood.

It reminds me of Halloweens from just a few years before then, when I would’ve been around the same age as these mysterious boys. (I’m guessing they were 10 or 11? For the sake of this piece, let’s assume they were.)

Everything about it is so on-target. Especially the spirited yet incomplete costumes, which were clearly the result of a quick trip to their local pharmacy’s Halloween section.

When I was that age, that’s what Halloween was like for me. My friends and I were still young enough to go trick-or-treating, but too old to act like we really cared about it. We all did the “cheap Jason Voorhees” thing. For some reason, those hockey masks felt more like cool hats than “childish” Halloween costumes. We felt safe in them. We’d found a loophole.

Preteen social stigmas aside, those were some of my favorite Halloweens. We were finally old enough to go out alone! We were finally old enough to venture beyond the same boring five blocks we’d grown up trick-or-treating around! And we were finally old enough to do it all at night. It was like we were masquerading as adults and kids at the same time.

The photo sparks more memories than that. Look at that house! Is that my house? I’m pretty sure I used to live in that house. We had the same wood paneling. The same free wall calendar. The same crappy fan!

Let’s zoom in a little closer…


So first we have this trio of Jasons. I know the photo is 22 years old, but I still felt compelled to block out Mystery Boy #3’s eyes.

Actually, let’s call him Mystery Boy #1, because that kid was obviously the ringleader. My impression is that this was his house, and that the two other Jasons were his friends. I too have spent a Halloween partially dressed like Jason Voorhees, flanked by others who were also partially dressed like Jason Voorhees.

You’ll notice that none of the Jason masks are exactly alike. I imagine that was the agreed-upon strategy. After all, even if Jason popularized it, the hockey mask entered a sort of “slasher public domain.”

Wearing one didn’t immediately mean that you were pretending to be Jason. You were pretending to be a maniacal murderer, yes, but not necessarily that one. According to these boys, they were each playing a different character.

The differences:

Mystery Boy #1: Totally clean white mask, but with fake blood smeared on his face.

Mystery Boy #2: Mask is decorated with lightning bolt stickers.

Mystery Boy #3: Mask is dripping blood. (Note the makeshift butcher’s apron, too!)

They were out for candy, but I imagine these hellions were also out to have shaving cream fights. They’d finally learned that valuable lesson: Halloween was an excuse to act like morons.


Next we have Freddy Krueger. Probably Mystery Boy #1’s little brother. I assume the mask was a hand-me-down from the previous year, when Mystery Boy #1 was all about Freddy.

Mom demanded that Mystery Boy #1 take Little Brother trick-or-treating, but that’s where his responsibilities ended. Freddy Krueger would not be going out for the “night round,” no matter how much he pleaded.


That’s probably their mother, but I can’t be sure. Whatever the case, Vague Ghoul was obviously too old to go trick-or-treating. Maybe Vague Ghoul dressed like this because Vague Ghoul was manning the front door, waiting to pass candy to all the many beggars.

If so, that’s awesome. When I went trick-or-treating, I loved being handed fun-sized Snickers by monstrously costumed strangers. It added so much to the experience! It made me feel like people weren’t giving me candy just because societal laws told them to.

People who answered the door dressed like goblins immediately went on the “do not egg” list.



Or maybe a lot of fans just look alike, and I’m confusing it with another one. I guess I can’t honestly claim to have total recollection of every fan I’ve ever owned. Even so, I’m unreasonably excited about THAT FAN.


Free calendar. You should know the type. They were made of bamboo, or something approximating bamboo. I can’t remember how we got them, but leading candidates include “visited a car dealership” and “ordered more than twenty bucks’ worth of shit from the Chinese food place.”


Damn, I’m pretty sure we had that exact same phone, too! The one with the especially big buttons! It took twice as long to dial with buttons that big, but whenever you did, it felt like you were going ballistic on the control panel of a cartoon submarine.

Big buttons were also good for playing “phone piano.” To this day, I still remember the keys to Polly Wolly Doodle.

1 2 3, 2, 2

1 2 3, 2, 2

3 3 3 3 4 4 3 3 2, 2, 2


I love this photo. Everything about it. The crooked hanging pictures. The dirty carpet. The couch, with its strange “dead bouquet” upholstery pattern. I knew all of these things. I lived all of these things.

And I bet I “lived” a Halloween much in the same way those three Jasons did. I’m sure it went something like this:

7PM – 8PM: Go trick-or-treating.

8PM – 9PM: Have a shaving cream war, ultimately involving many neutral innocents.

9PM – 10PM: Go trick-or-treating again, this time covered from head to toe in shaving cream. Act like total brats to the nice people who give you free candy. Kick things that don’t belong to you.

10PM – 11PM: Get nailed with eggs by the older kids. Pretend to be in on the gag. Secretly wish death upon them all.

11:30PM: Arrive home. Get yelled at for dragging mud and shaving cream through the house. Protest taking a shower, but eventually acquiesce.

12AM: Eat twenty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Also eat every pink and red Starburst. Ignore the yellow ones until you’re down to three Sugar Daddies and a honeyed popcorn ball.

1AM: Fall asleep while watching something you’re probably not old enough to watch. Have dreams involving steamy sex and gory murder.

10AM: Start working on your Christmas wish list.

Thank you, random photo from eBay. I’m glad I bought you. You are getting framed and crookedly hung.