It started a few weeks earlier when Lewis’ of Woodhaven put up their Halloween costume display by the front counter, hanging them from the ceiling. Superman, Batman, Evel Knievel, Captain Kirk and Bigfoot were the costumes the boys wanted, while the girls wanted to be princesses, witches and Charlie’s Angels.
The costumes were simple two-piece affairs that came in a box. The suit was basically a picture of a costume and the sharp plastic mask went over your face, held on with a painful rubber band. They were cheap and easy and glorious.
When I went into Lewis’ and saw James Bond, I knew that’s what I wanted to be. Mom had other ideas, though, and she wasn’t shy about pressing them on me. She thought I would make a great Captain Kangaroo.
“I want to be Bond. James Bond,” I told her. It’s all I thought about, all I talked about.
On the way home from PS 60 each day, we would walk through the Wyckoff Building to Jamaica Avenue and I’d run ahead into Lewis’ to visit my costume. Eventually, my pleading and pouting won the day, and we came home with my Bond costume.
But it wasn’t complete. Just before Halloween, I spotted a dirty old briefcase with a broken handle in the garbage on Jamaica Avenue and brought it home. I thought it was the coolest thing ever; it looked exactly like the trick briefcase Bond carried in “From Russia With Love.”
Mom had a fit and ordered me to throw it back on the garbage pile I rescued it from. But my dad saved the day for me. He took it to work that night and by the next morning it was spotless. He even fixed the handle. Mom looked at it doubtfully, but it was two against one.
But the real surprise was when I opened the briefcase and saw that my dad had taken my Star Trek gun and painted it gold, an homage to the most recent Bond film at the time, “The Man With The Golden Gun.”
And so we set off in search of Halloween candy with a bunch of Supermans and Batmans and Evel Knievels and princesses and witches and Bigfoots. But I was the only Bond. James Bond.
Mom saw a boy dressed as Captain Kangaroo and pointed out how nice he looked, but I waved my golden gun at her and kept walking.
We lived on 95th Street and Jamaica, and I think our Halloween candy route was just up both sides on 95th and down 96th. We came home with a decent amount of candy, but nothing like I see the kids coming home with these days.
I can remember mothers telling their kids back then, “Ok, that’s enough” and that was it, Trick-or-Treating was over. You went home, your parents inspected your candy and you waited for next year.
Today, I see kids carrying bags so full of candy they’re nearly toppling over. And the parents never tell their kids “Ok, that’s enough” because, let’s be honest, parents hardly ever tell their kids “Ok, that’s enough” anymore about anything.
Today’s parents walk their kids all over, filling up those bags to the brim because the parents take a healthy cut of the candy for themselves.
The following year, I outgrew James Bond and moved on to Planet of the Apes, but those costumes were so popular that year you couldn’t get one. Lewis’ was sold out, as was Jason’s. In the end, my dad came through again, making me a homemade Gorilla outfit. Technically, I was General Ursus, but you’d need to be a real fan to know who that was.
That year I ran up and down the streets of Woodhaven with my rifle shouting “The only good human is a dead human.” Back in 1975, that got a lot of chuckles. Can you imagine a kid doing that today? Back then we pretended to be in a scary world. Today, we live in one. Happy Halloween indeed.