When I was a teenager, my family lived in a farmhouse built before the Civil War. Rooms had been added on as the family grew and the kitchen was moved inside. It was a large and simple – the opposite of an antebellum manse – with a few oddly offset rooms. It was a perfect house to host Halloween sleepovers.
The evenings started with a formal dinner downstairs. Then the girls and I headed upstairs, where my parents had helped me dye the bedding gray and make cardboard tombstones to put at the head of each of their mattresses. We watched horror movies on VHS tapes and scared each other. Sometimes there were other things hidden around upstairs to startle if they left the room.
These photos are from 1984, when the theme was “eyeballs.” My parents bought balls of all different sizes and we painted them for weeks. Cecilia, a papier mache corpse from the year before, came back as a witch for this party. She had started as “Cecil the Severed Leg,” but it just wasn’t enough.
The house is gone now. It burned down several years after my family moved away. It’s too bad to think I can’t go back to visit it. There were people that swore there were “haints” in that house, but they differed on whether they felt benevolent ghosts or darker entities.