Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections. Hellscapes, Volume II, is out this week.
Today, the handsome and prolific Mr. Zimmer shares his favorite memories of Halloween with us. It's a fun read, and don't forget to enter the raffle at the bottom of the page. Top prize is a Kindle Fire HD8!
Halloween is a holiday that brings to mind many great, magical memories from my childhood. It’s always good to recall those lovely days when the world was a lot simpler, the heart a lot lighter, and everything seemed so full of wonder and adventure.
I remember those crisp fall days at our old house on Plymouth Drive, on Halloween when my mother used to help me and my little sister get ready in our costumes for the evening’s trick-or-treat foray. My mom was very into sewing and crafts, and this meant that our costumes were made by her each year rather than bought, something I appreciate even more today when I look back upon it.
We always ventured out in groups with our neighborhood playmates and their parents. For me, that meant an excursion with my two main partners in crime, John and Joey, who lived next door to me. We were quite the trio then, playing soldiers using whiffle ball bats as our guns, or doing mock Kiss concerts using tennis rackets as guitars. John was always Gene, Joey was Paul, I was Ace, and poor Peter Criss was never represented!
During those Halloween excursions I carried a plastic orange pumpkin as the primary container for my loot. It had a nice handle and a smaller opening so it was easy to keep contents in while racing from one door to the next, while our parents trekked along the sidewalk. It never took all that long until the pumpkin was full, perhaps a few streets altogether.
Those were truly great days and all the parents knew each other really well. My folks hung out often with John and Joey’s father, as well as the other neighborhood parents. Looking back I can see where these Halloween adventures represented a time for my folks to spend time with friends in a shared experience with their kids.
When we returned after dark, there was always a tradition of a horror movie down in the den of our house, along with glasses of cool apple cider and glazed doughnuts for all of the neighborhood kids. I couldn’t access the candy in my pumpkin container immediately. My dad was a stickler when it came to safety and he personally expected the entire pumpkin full of candy treasure, putting aside anything that could be unwrapped easily or had anything about it he thought could be tampered with. I suspect he took a small cut of the loot to enjoy for himself too!
Nevertheless, when the pumpkin was returned to me before I went to bed, it had not decreased in its contents by much. I always had plenty to sustain me over the ensuing couple of weeks. I tended to be very strategic as well, eating my less favorite stuff first and saving the things I preferred most for later. As such, things like rolls of Smarties, Sweet Tarts, anything with caramel and the better chocolate bars tended to grow in concentration in my pumpkin as time went on.
I took on many guises during these Halloween forays, but I have to say my favorite attire was when my mom made me an Ace Frehley costume derived from the Love Gun/Kiss Alive II era. I had discovered Kiss during the Love Gun album period and the record was the second rock record I ever owned (the first being Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, leading to my young crush on Stevie Nicks!). They were my favorite thing in the world and Ace, the flashy lead guitar player with his sunburst Gibson Les Paul, was my favorite member of the band.
This has a really cool side note to it as Kiss donned the Love Gun era costumes when they did their 1997 reunion tour. The Lexington show at Rupp Arena produced one of my most cherished memories as we were able to talk my father into going to the show, so my mother, sister, father and myself were all in attendance to see Ace on stage in the look that served as the costume I wore as a child during that Halloween I shared with all of them many years go. In many ways, that night brought some of the magic full circle.
Everything about those early Halloweens, whether I was Ace Frehley or a werewolf, carried a real excitement and anticipation to it. I loved all of it, from the marshaling of our pack of friends, to the exploration of the neighborhood houses, some of which invariably had costumed hosts or a theatrical display, to the grand finale with a movie, apple cider, and glazed doughnuts, rounding everything out with an epilogue of receiving my candy loot in the plastic pumpkin before getting tucked in. All of it carried a wonderful magic, of a kind that I still remember the feeling of to this day.
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