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1980s Halloween Photos (Autumn 2018 Field Notes)

1980s Halloween Parade featuring children in flame retardant smocks and plastic masks including the Incredible Hulk.

35 mm Kodachrome Slide: 1980s Halloween Parade featuring children in flame retardant smocks and plastic masks including the Incredible Hulk.

There have been some great Gen-X posts lately that I’m delighted to share with you, especially one published on the the Foundation for Economic Education’s website, Why Halloween Costumes Used to Be Terrible. It’s a fascinating read that offers a quick lesson in the global economy. The author, Richard N. Lorenc, explains how much wealthier we have become over the last few decades by pointing to today’s Halloween costumes versus the cheap, flame retardant ones we wore as kids. (You can check out nearly 100 posts on this blog labeled Vintage Halloween to see pictures and videos of costumes Gen-Xers wore growing up including many Ben Cooper and Collegeville giddups.)

Here is an excerpt from Lorenc’s story:

Specialization exists in every economy to greater or lesser degrees. The reason that we are living today in a Halloween costume renaissance is that specialization truly has gone global. This is not to say that those shameful mask-smock costumes weren’t made overseas—rather that economic production in every area today has become global, allowing people and companies worldwide to trade on their strengths.”

My buddy Steve Barerra is a history buff with a longtime interest in Strauss and Howe’s theory of generations. He recently wrote a post on his website, Generation X At The Turning Point. Here is an excerpt:

t is plain that Generation X is ambivalent about the emerging new order. On social media we confront the current political crisis with posts that range in tenor from mocking to incredulous to anguished. It is unclear where we are headed, so ambivalence is perhaps inevitable. What is clear is that the old Culture Wars of the previous era have come to a head – and while some of us have picked our faction, many of us remain on the sidelines.”

My friend Ted Anthony is a National Associated Press reporter and sometimes publishes personal essays on Medium. If you are dealing with aging parents or have lost a parent, I highly recommend his latest post, The Last 90 Seconds, which is about losing his father. There are some wonderful references to growing up in the late 1970s with convenient store burritos and “not-yet-iconic Slim Jims.” Beyond that, reading about Ted’s loss helped me process my own a little more. It’s been a very hard year for Robert and me with the loss of my mother and mother-in-law just nine days apart. Honestly, nobody could have told me how it was going to be to live without her.

The American Conservative has published a post, What’s the Frequency of Generation X?  It is a review of a book by Matthew Hennessey, the assistant opinion page editor for the Wall Street Journal. His new book is Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America From Millennials.

Synopsis of Zero Hour for Gen X

In Zero Hour for Gen X, Matthew Hennessey calls on Generation X to take a stand against tech-obsessed Millennials, apathetic Baby Boomers, utopian Silicon Valley “visionaries,” and the menace to top them all: the soft totalitarian conspiracy known as the Internet of Things. Soon Gen Xers will be the only cohort of Americans who remember life as it was lived before the arrival of the Internet. They are, as Hennessey dubs them, “the last analog generation,” the sole remaining link to a time when childhood was still a bit dangerous but produced adults who were naturally resilient.

Zero Hour for Gen X is a cultural history of the last 35 years, an analysis of the current social and historical moment, and a generational call to arms. The Baby Boomers are exhausted. The Millennials are preoccupied with their gadgets and apps. In Zero Hour for Gen X, Hennessey argues that the time has come for Generation X to stand up and be counted.

The book is available on Amazon in hardcover for about $16.00.

80s Halloween Photos

Here are some more vintage Halloween photos from the 1980s. These wonderful 35 mm Kodachrome (thus the ridiculously bright colors) slides were taken during a parade in some small town in America. The location is unknown. They feature a variety of Ben Cooper (possibly Collegeville, also) flame retardant masks and smocks including Mr. T,  Unfortunately, I can’t identify the girl in the far right frame next to the girl in the black cape. I think the boy with the plastic mask featuring a red hat is Mario from the video game.

1980 Halloween Parade features children dressed up as Mr. Tee, Elliott and E.T. and more.

1980 Halloween Parade features children dressed up as Mr. Tee, Elliott and E.T. and more.

1984 Halloween E.T. and Elliott

1980s Halloween E.T. and Elliott

1980s Strawberry Shortcake Halloween Costumes

1980s Strawberry Shortcake Halloween Costumes. (I see three in this image.) Also, that’s possibly a bodacious Miss Piggy in the far right of the frame.)

School Halloween Parade 1980

Can anyone identify the costume with the purple face and hair?

Halloween Parade 1980s Robots and

Zoom in to see a robot, KISS rocker, Crayola crayon, Miss Piggy, a pilgrim and more.

Humpty Dumpty Costume - Awesome handmade or homemade

A homemade Humpty Dumpty Costume from 1980

What’s your all-time favorite Ben Cooper Halloween Costume?


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Stephen Barrera

    Great post! I have some pictures from my childhood in those old Ben Cooper costumes. I’m sure you’ve seen the elaborate costumes adult Gen-Xers make for their kids these days. It’s like we never really wanted to grow up. Or like we want to relive our childhood the way we wish it had been. Thanks for mentioning my post and Happy Halloween!

    • Jennifer

      I’m one of those parents! LOL. I think I’ve done it because the end of childhood hangs over me like a pall. It’s fleeting and precious and I’ve wanted to savor every second and never let a celebration pass without full regalia. I wonder what impact this has on my kids. This year, for the first time in many years they have store-bought costumes. LOL!!

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