Thursday, October 25, 2012

Popular Mechanics Does Halloween (Vintage Costume and Party Ideas, 1927-1934)

Good morning!

If you're a mechanically minded young Halloween enthusiast, let me tell you, for the research I did in Google Books today, Popular Mechanics of the twenties and thirties' has GOT YOU COVERED. Can you imagine all these little ragamuffin kids running around their neighborhood alleys, picking up scrap wood and other materials to build their FREAKING AWESOME ROBOTIC COSTUME for Halloween? This might actually top the Halloween parade stuff I mentioned on's just out of control:

To quote the text: "Making a robot requires a lot of work, but it is worth the effort to create a real sensation at a party, and assuredly, this mechanical man will be the talk of the community." AMEN! I've seen basic cardboard robot people wandering around parties, and been greatly impressed-- think about how much greater of an impression an incredibly detailed and articulated robot would have made! I love his little knee flaps. How could you even suggest going as a sack of potatoes (see the circular inset) or a "tent" (I have no idea why someone would want to go as a tent for Halloween, but there you are) when you'd have to walk in the company of a robot, complete with debonair cigarette holder in mouth? So Ronald Colman. So.

These two are from the same article, and I think they're pretty great! The Roman costume pretty much just requires a little handiwork and great legs...ditto to the clock costume.

These two I was less impressed with....while colored flashlight bulbs hidden in your glasses would look kind of neat, wouldn't they also reflect back into your eyes? The baby costume, comprised primarily of painted cheesecloth stretched across your face, seems way too much like a robbery get-up or a nightmare to be appealing. Onward!

Once you've got your costume figured out, you're going to want to think about what you want to do for entertainment at your Halloween festivities.Look at the little illustrations from this article on different "tricks" you can play on your guests. Also, look at the ghoul in the ghost fortunes panel! What is going on?! He is TOO scary. That same trick requires you to use a "dilute solution of sulphuric acid" which sounds like nothing so much as a bad idea, but you use that to write the fortunes out (they're invisible) and then heat from a jerry rigged curling iron (now known as a "witches' wand") makes the fortune appear at the right moment. It may sound like an episode of Maury entitled "Pranks Gone Horribly Wrong" waiting to happen, but you need to man up! This is the thirties! Child safety doesn't exist yet!

 I put this in here just because I love how innocuous the glove monkey looks when he's supposed to be an object of fear and terror. He's just a little hand puppet! I do like the idea of using luminous paint to one's great advantage, however...there's got to be a use for that this year that I'm not thinking of yet....

Last but not least, a box you put on your party guests' heads that distorts their vision and makes them fumble around the house looking for their way (I usually just use vodka towards this purpose, but you get the idea), and a TRULY WEIRD Halloween costume made of piano wire and pearls and black magic itself:

Have you figured out your costume yet? I did a "dry run" of mine the other day to make sure I really had it together as much as I thought I ought to be good, I think! Have you gone to any elaborate measures before to pull off a truly stunning Halloween costume or trick? Share!

Hope you're still enjoying the holiday focus I've put into this week...tomorrow's Photo Friday! I wonder if I can find any vintage Doris and Ray trick or treat snaps before then. We'll have to see. 

Have a great Thursday and I'll see you tomorrow!


  1. Hilarious! Agreed, the baby is robber-creepy. Funny that the potato sack getup would completely fail any safety precautions of our modern day.

  2. eww the cheesecloth face! terrifying! but i think the tent costume is my favorite. what a weird boring costume.



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