I probably marched in a half-dozen Halloween parades as a little kid. Our mom was full of energy and did things like sew matching Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee outfits for me and Pam. Another year we were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, complete with red yarn for hair. One Halloween she painted Barb up as a clown…and even provided her with a real cigar.
Mom once helped Pam make a papier-maché witch’s head complete with a long nose that had a wart on the end of it. Pam won the Most Horrible award that year!
Costumes got passed on down through the years. In those days you could still go to antique stores and rummage through trunks of musty-smelling old clothes: we scored blouses with whale-bone stays and jackets complete with mothballs and moth holes. But the costume of legend is a Halloween outfit from my dad Bobbo’s childhood. Bobbo had a full body frog costume that was green with yellow spots and had a matching head that buttoned onto the neck. The illusion was complete with a pair of swimming flippers that Mom dyed green (of course) with food coloring.
Best Halloween costume ever!
Once inside that suit, I was a frog. Literally, because an adult needed to unbutton it from the outside in order to extract the child inside.
Our grade school held an annual parade on the grounds and the town would come watch us march around the grass. But once my part of the line began moving, I had a problem. Actually, I had two problems. The flippers were adult-sized, and I was maybe eight years old. I kept tripping, because they wouldn’t stop sliding off my shoes…
I stumbled yet again and picked those flippers up off the grass for the last time and in desperation put them on over my hands, trying to catch up with the children ahead of me who I could see (kind of) through the eye holes in the frog mask which were located somewhere higher than my own eyes and meanwhile the head was growing hotter and hotter because I started to cry for a couple minutes and that in turn totally steamed up the enclosed space inside the mask which of course was nonporous because it was painted with some no-doubt noxious and maybe even toxic 1930’s paint mix…..
Half a century later all this found its way into my short story What Died in the Fridge. A wonderful postscript: when my oldest friend Doris read the book, she immediately recognized the scene!
NOTES: © 2021 Jadi Campbell. Uwe’s images from our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de. You’ll find What Died in the Fridge in my short story collection The Trail Back Out.
Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.
6 thoughts on “My Imaginary Friends: #8 A Kid Parading in a Frog Suit”
It’s just a piece of British history – in the 1700’s (?) Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and was caught.
Alison, you got me curious enough to hunt down the origin of the current Burning Man Festival, According to askinglot.com, “Burning Man started in 1986 in San Francisco. An artist named Larry Harvey made a 9-foot tall (2.7 m) wooden sculpture of a man, and decided to burn it at a nearby beach as a bonfire for Summer Solstice.” PS: I’ve always found it fascinating that the ever-so-civil Brits commemorate Guy Fawkes and his radical civil disobedience!
Brits are only civil on the surface
There’s a childhood rhyme that goes with guy Fawkes night: Remember remember the 5th of November/ Gunpowder treason and plot/ I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.
I’d very vaguely heard of the origins of Burning Man – what a sensation that has grown into! Starting just for fun and growing into one of the greatest festivals in the world.
Probably not. It’s a bit of English history. In the 1700’s (?) a man named Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up the English Parliament and was caught, so people started to burn his effigy, and it became an annual ritual spread to the colonies.
What a delightful story, though I’m not so sure your eight-year-old self would agree. Oh the mishaps we endured as children eh!
Your mom was quite the shining example for Halloween costumes!
Halloween wasn’t a thing in Australia when I was a kid. We had Guy Fawkes instead – burning an effigy of him, so a big bonfire and fireworks – always fun.
… an early forerunner to Burning Man? …