Friday, October 28, 2022
Monday, October 10, 2022
Saturday, October 1, 2022
With October here and the promise of another Halloween, I decided to revisit this 13-year-old blog after a long hiatus. Family and work priorities prevent me from giving the site much attention during the year, but the site deserves to remain active. This week I checked old posts and, when possible, updated video links to replace dead ones. I hope to add new posts in the coming weeks.
I originally created Ghosts of Halloweens Past as a way to celebrate my childhood memories of the holiday, by sharing Halloween shows and programs that I remembered from those decades—along with fun and interesting videos that I discovered in more recent years of scouring the Internet.
But it occurred to me that despite its good intentions, this blog is by its very nature somewhat antithetical to my childhood experiences of Halloween. Having been born in the mid-1970s, I grew up in a time when holiday entertainment was more communal. Halloween specials were typically shown only once a year, and network TV stations advertised them accordingly. Catching the annual airing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, for example, was a much-anticipated event. As my sister pointed out to me in a recent conversation, part of what made these programs special was knowing that all your friends were watching them at the same moment. And even though we could pop a videotape into the VCR and record the program for later viewing, or eventually purchase an official VHS or DVD of it, a recording never did justice to the actual broadcast, because the communal event had passed. Watching the program whenever we desired meant that the shared experience rarely extended beyond the walls of our living room.
Today such experiences are even more individualized and fragmented. Halloween fans now have the choice of innumerable sites offering holiday fare—Ghosts of Halloweens Past being one of the humbler ones. Meanwhile, it's not yet clear whether It's the Great Pumpkin will be shown on PBS Kids or any other cable TV station this year.
On the flip side, sites like YouTube allow us the privilege of discovering obscure shows—sometimes including commercials from the original broadcasts—which never benefitted from repeat airings or commercial releases. Communal or not, such sites make it possible to re-experience programs that otherwise might have only existed as a strange memory—such as the "haunted Toys-R-Us" episode of That's Incredible from 1978, or The Search for Houdini, probably the most unusual Halloween program aired in 1987.
Thankfully, TV entertainment is only one part of a holiday that is still very much a communal event, at least in my neighborhood. Costumed children and their families will be seen along the sidewalks, and walking up to houses they otherwise never visit, and speaking to people with whom they otherwise never chat. And despite the potential for glorifying darkness and evil on Halloween night, in my experience the holiday can still bring out the best in humanity.