Halloween Through The Years (2000-2008)

HALLOWEEN, 2001

By Homeowner Harry

Last year I wrote a little fluffy codicil to my wife Virginia’s article in which I joked that the parade was an accurate predictor of weather and market trends. Well, I made all that up of course. But watching the parade this year, I felt that it was a very important step on the road back to fighting fear. Inspector Coan remarked that there was NOTHING else happening in the 70 Pct. that night -- many other planned activities had been cancelled, what with the anthrax attacks so much on everyone's mind.

“You guys are the only ones going forward.”

I’m glad we did.


I remember most vividly standing with Joe Lerner on his front porch, as we watched our sons Jesse and James, dressed in full ghoulish regalia, gleefully distributing great gobs of candy to hordes of youngsters. Across the street, a “mood lamp” in the 2nd floor window of an otherwise dark house kept changing its color, lending an eerie glow to the street.
It was the Lerners’ first Halloween since Marilyn passed away.

As I looked at the glowing lamp, Jesse mentioned that the person who lived on the first floor, beneath that lamp, had also died. I heard Joe sigh. Then he reached in to the bag of goodies and declared: “OK, you guys, here comes the next batch of kids!”

The Lerners moved forward and Joe chided a non-customed teen to get with the program. Jesse complemented a young ghost on his outfit as he dropped a bunch of lollipops in his pumpkin-pail.

It was Halloween in West Midwood. Hey, let’s do it again next year!

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Halloween - A Husband's Perspective (2005)

By Homeowner Harry

I am writing this at a U.S. Marine base after speaking to my wife, Virginia, about the first West Midwood Halloween parade I have missed since 1988. She says it went well despite my absence, but I know she's just putting a good face on her disappointment. What a trooper. Of course, with me not there to take charge of the candy distribution, I'm sure some kids were bitterly disappointed.

"Mommy," I can hear them complaining, "That grumpy man wasn't here this year to give me my candy. Instead a nice lady answered the door."

Oh well, life has its little ups and downs. But to give you an idea of just how long it's been since I missed a West Midwood Halloween, in 1988 the Internet was still a toddler, yet to be discovered by normal people. In fact, most folks didn't use personal computers at all back then, probably because laptops weighed 200 pounds and caused severe back spasms. Also, the Y2K Bug was 12 years away from becoming a non-event, DOS was the most popular software program, kids were more likely to play ball than video games and houses in Victorian Flatbush sold for a third of their current value. On a personal note, 17 years ago we had just moved from Park Slope, borrowing money from people we sat next to in the 4th grade in order to close on our first house.

We knew absolutely nobody in the neighborhood, but the September weekend we moved in, I recall Melanie Oeser rang our bell with a bottle of wine and a goodie basket as we were in the middle of wall-papering something or other. I don't remember much else after she arrived, aside from some dim recollection that Virginia was very cross with me later just because I had guzzled the entire bottle while she gave Melanie a tour (FYI, wall-papering leads to severe thirst).

Anyway, I digressed I think. The point here is that of all the events in our neighborhood, Halloween is the one I enjoy the most...All those wonderful children, all those proud parents and all that excess candy I managed to squirrel away when nobody was looking...How I will miss it!

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Halloween, Casey & The Heights (2004)

By Homeowner Harry

Halloween warm enough for ya this year was it? Somewhere along about the 402nd visitor of the evening, I remarked to my neighbor Harriett Rhine that it hadn’t rained on Halloween in 10 years. And we were paying the price for it again with all these enormous bags of candy, dispensed to endless hordes of goblins and ghouls. Harriett then sagely reminded me that I had written about weather and Halloween in the 2000 Winter edition of the West Midwood Newsletter and inquired as to what NEW topic I would be addressing this time. Well, Harriett, I was quick to point out, I didn’t mention back then that weather for any past date can be researched at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/okx/climate.html and that www.weatherunderground.com was another kewl site if you were a weather buff like me who likes to seek theories about bark growth as it relates to presaging severe winters. You could look it up, as Casey Stengel used to say.

Speaking of Stengel, he started playing pro ball with the Brooklyn Dodgers (“They brought me up to the Brooklyn Dodgers, which at that time was in Brooklyn”), where he was a platoon outfielder for the borough’s first pennant winner in 1916, at the recently opened Ebbets Field, distinguishing himself by secreting a bird under his cap, or taking a flashlight to the outfield to give the umps a hint that they should call the game due to darkness. After he stopped playing, Casey bounced from one coaching or managerial job to another until in 1949 at the age of 58 he became the Yankees manager and then proceeded to win 5 world series in a row and 10 pennants in 12 years, although somebody once said that a tree sloth could have won pennants with that team. Later, at age 71, Casey became the first manager of the New York Mets, where he set the record, in 1962, for the most defeats in one season accumulated by any team in any sport on any level, including other star systems. When Casey, who was fond of taking naps on the bench during games, was asked before the season why the Mets drafted a catcher as their first selection in the expansion draft that created the club, he seemed to indicate reduced expectations were in order when he replied: “You’ve got to have a catcher or they’ll be too many passed balls.”

As it turned out, the Mets catcher that year was so stupid that when he called a pitch, he had to look at how many fingers he was putting down -- otherwise he’d forget. When the Mets traded their catcher to a pennant-contender that year, they were promised “a player to be named later.” Well, the catcher played terribly for his new team, which lost the pennant. So they sent the catcher back to the Mets as “the player to be named later” to complete the deal. To my knowledge, that has never happened before or since – ask the folks at www.retrosheet.org -- a great site for reliving past baseball seasons.

Stengel had a mean streak in him and no less an authority than Jackie Robinson thought he was a racist, but there’s no denying Casey had a way with words. My favorite quote? The time he summoned Yankee outfielder Bob Cerv into his office and, reluctant to anger the massively muscled Cerv, gently observed: “Nobody knows this yet, but of the two of us sittin’ here right now, only one of us has just been traded to Kansas City for a left fielder.”

Speaking of the importance of words, it has occurred to me lately that most of West Midwood sits on a slight incline – stand on the corner of Argyle and Glenwood and look North if you doubt me. The ascent starts at about Dorchester and rises to its full majesty just before Avenue H. Given this happenstance of topography, I wonder whether we should consider changing the name of our enclave here to ARGYLE HEIGHTS? I understand this might be met with some negative reaction by folks on other blocks, but we could work on that – perhaps Glenwood Heights would be less jarring since we could still retain the “wood” from West Midwood and maybe even salvage some existing neighborhood stuff by crossing out the “West” and writing over the “Mid” with “Glen” and then appending “Heights”. Studies show that property values rise by as much as 20% when you have a “Heights” in your address and there appears to be no qualifying commission to measure what exactly qualifies as a “Heights” and what doesn’t. Besides, aren’t we sick of defining our wood in relation to other woods? All I know is that we get more snow on this block than they get down near Dorchester and there’s only one explanation for that that makes any sense to me: our distance above sea level up here. In fact, when my son and I saw “The Day After Tomorrow” this Summer (at the Kent of course – love those new seats), we both thought that if a tidal wave were to hit New York, we would likely be spared up here on Argyle Heights. Heck, we might even have ocean-front property at that point.

Well, gotta go now, the wind is howling up here on the Heights – time to get that fireplace cranked up and round up the sheep. See you next Halloween! And don’t shovel too much at once!!



Men In Black (Alvin & Joe) Sighting in Argyle Heights
(Photo: Harriet Rhine)

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Neighborhood Notes (2004)

by Homeowner Harry

Virginia Waters reports that over the last two years she has completely renovated her home. New roof and gutters, landscaping, in-ground sprinklers and converting from oil to gas heat were all finished in 2003. This year the entire house, inside and out has been re-plastered, painted and the floors sanded. 20 new windows as well as a gas fireplace were installed and the plumbing and electrical work included heating the enclosed front porch. The biggest job was a complete gutting of the kitchen with new oak floors, wainscotted cabinets and granite counters. The last touch has been redecorating the living room and bedrooms. Virginia would be happy to share the names of contractors and her assessment of their work with anyone planning on doing similar work.

Joe, Virginia’s husband, after 30 years in various law enforcement jobs, has moved on to a new federal position and delayed his retirement another 30 years to help pay for all the stuff in the preceding paragraph. He has in fact started to refer to the renovated home as “The Money Pit Atop Argyle Heights”. He is willing to share with fellow home owners the best strategies to employ when you are entertaining 10 guests with no kitchen or living room. “That new joint, Picket Fences, is good,” says Joe, “although you could also hit the Cornerstone Bar if you have any money left -- and don’t forget to have some hard hats handy for the guests to wear during the post-meal aperitifs back at your place.”

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Report From Outpost 715: Halloween 2002

By Homeowner Harry


They came in droves. They came in dribs. They came in drabs. But mostly they just kept coming. We had over 400 costumed visitors on Argyle Road this Halloween. All races, creeds and ethnicities were represented, united in a common lust for candy. Well they came to the right spot. While the rest of my family gallivanted around the neighborhood, I steeled myself, waiting for the onslaught of those hungry hordes and at the same time, resolved to document every last handout for posterity. With a pencil and note pad propped next to the bags of tootsie rolls and lollipops, I furiously dispensed sweets and counted heads. On and on they came. Slow at first, then as the parade broke up and the kids got down to serious doorbell ringing, I could barely keep up. Relentless groups of lions and draculas and undead ghouls and princesses.

When Cinderella's Coach parked near the driveway outside, the damn burst and like bees to honey, the goblins took all we had and then some. But I stood tall, grabbing some Three Musketeers I was holding in reserve, then rationing my dwindling supply. At a desperate moment, I yelled to Harriet Rhine manning the neighboring outpost:

"I'm running out! Throw me some ammo!"

Harriet yelled back: "What are you talking about?"

Oh.

"I meant Butterfingers! Throw me some..."

Just then reinforcements arrived --my son James and his pal Henry Finkel from Glenwood Rd dipped into their stash of freshly harvested goodies to keep the oncoming swarm of kids at bay. And then, just like that, it was over. After 7:30pm, an occasional stray ghost would wander along, we'd scrounge up a lollipop and they'd be on their way. By 8:30pm, we were mopping up, harvesting spent candy casings, and wondering how we survived.

Halloween in Flatbush. Hey, I got an idea--let's do it again next year too!

Trick or Treaters by Half Hour
5:30pm - 6:00pm..........21
6:00pm - 6:30pm.........131
6:30pm - 7:00pm.........175
7:00pm - 7:30pm..........96
7:30pm - 8:00pm...........8
8:00pm - 8:30pm...........6

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HALLOWEEN Y2K

By Homeowner Harry

The West Midwood Halloween Parade, if interpreted correctly, is an accurate harbinger of meteorological, cultural and market trends. For instance, did you know that the last time it rained on Halloween in these parts was 1991–when “The Perfect Storm” drenched the Northeast? Wow, what a storm–they should make a movie about it. Anyway, the energy level in the neighborhood and the turnout of little goblins was off this year – the conventional wisdom attributed it to all the Fall excitement and late sport nights in New York, which had taken their toll on everyone. After all, the parade occurred 5 days after the Subway Series ended and a scant 24 hours after the ticker tape parade honoring the Yankees.

But I believe the major reason for the decline in paraders was the Dow Jones downturn which began earlier this year. In years when the market has declined year to date compared to the preceding Halloween, the number of trick or treaters decline as well. Last Fall, when the market was at its peak, the record-setting number of trick-or-treaters who rang my doorbell (N = 345) dispelled all fears in my mind of the dreaded impending Y2K Crisis. And indeed, there was no disaster. So the downturn this year could mean we’re in for a hard Winter since the last time we had a double digit October 31st visitor fall-off was 1995...And the snowiest Winter in West Midwood annals ensued.

Nonetheless, I still managed to dispense candy to 236 doorbell pushing children from 5pm to 9pm this year and that ain’t hay. I also enjoyed hanging out with next door neighbor Harriet Rhine part of the time, listening to her repartee with teenage tricksters who showed up without costumes.

“Hey! Where’s your costume?” she’d ask. “I guess you left it in the cleaners, huh?”

“Ah, give me a break, lady, I don’t need no stinky costume” came their reply.

Then Harriet would deposit Baby Ruth’s in their plastic bags, they’d smile a “Thanks!” and all was right with the world.

Ah yes, Halloween. Let’s do it again next year!














ANNIVERSARY HALLOWEEN PARADE 2008 by Virginia Waters

Another perfect evening, another record turn-out for the Glenwood Road gathering-parade-trick-or-treat fest! Many people volunteered to help put on this year’s event which could not have happened without them. The same group of people generously helps out year after year. Joe Enright created the flyer. Tables were generously lent by Joanne Finkel, Linda Howell and Lisa Mislowack. Kai Lui set up our lights

Barbara Schweitzer, as usual, brought all the supplies – apple juice, cups, etc. Om Agrawal, Joanne Finkel, Carol Grau, Leonore Max and Linda Howell manned the tables and did the clean up. Len Grau made an emergency apple juice run for us.

A special guest again this year was Barbara Auerbach, the librarian at 217, dressed as the Man with the Yellow Hat accompanied by Curious George. The younger kids really enjoyed playing with George and talking to Barbara.

Leading the parade this year as usual was (ex-West Midwooder) Ernst Mohammed, assisted by Joel Siegel from Ditmas Park West with his trumpet. It was a great musical lead off.

The local 70th Precinct did a fine job of providing police protection. Deputy Inspector Ralph Monteforte, Chief Executive Officer Captain Peter Venice as well as Community Affairs Officer Dominick Scotto and a number of other officers made sure that everything was running like clockwork, which it was.

Many people graciously donated cupcakes, donuts and cookies for kids of all ages.

The Grimes/Hooker family continued their tradition of having the most elaborately decorated house in the neighborhood. This year’s theme was When Robots Rule the World which was lit up in red letters on their front porch. As usual Noel MacFetrick helped with the decorations. The voice activated robots included Martina and Emily Grimes, Fran and Eliana Marzullo and Noel MacFetrich. Other noteworthy revelers were Marty Gilbert as Sarah Palin, Eileen Thornton as Marilyn Monroe and her husband Patrick as Joe DiMaggio.

There was no rain and the weather was warm at it has been amazingly for the last dozen years. It is great when the weather is so mild and everyone can sit out on their front porches. Thanks to the many homeowners who decorated their homes and gave out candy to the hundreds of trick or treaters. Thanks one and all for your assistance in again making West Midwood’s Halloween festivities the best ever this year.

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HALLOWEEN PARADE 2007

Another perfect evening, another record turn-out for the Glenwood Road gathering-parade-trick-or-treat fest! Many people volunteered to help put on this year’s event which could not have happened without them. The same group of people generously helps out year after year. Joe Enright created the flyer. Tables were generously lent by Ellen Bilofsky and Lisa Mislowack. Kai Lui set up our great new lights. This was the first year of not switching our clocks back to day light savings time so we got to gather while it was light and march in the dark.

Barbara Schweitzer, as usual, brought all the supplies – apple juice, cups, etc. Om Agrawal, Joanne Finkel (dressed as a witch), Kathy Soffer and Linda Howell (assisted by her son Patrick) manned the tables and did the clean up. Om’s son Quantum was Superman and Anthony Finkel was a priest who was escorted by a sleazily dressed secretary who was in need of reforming.

A special guest this year was Barbara Auerbach, the librarian at 217, dressed as Emily Elizabeth, who brought a huge stuffed Clifford the Big Red Dog. The younger kids really enjoyed patting Clifford and talking to Barbara.

Leading the parade this year as usual was (ex-West Midwooder) Ernst Mohammed, “the Big Chief”, with his drum. He brought along two new associates this year, Dave Wexl, “the Little Flutist” and Joel Siegel, “the Spy Boy”, who played the trumpet. It was a great musical lead off.

The local 70th Precinct did a fine job of providing police protection and Inspector Thomas Harris himself checked in to make sure that everything was running like clockwork, which it was.

Many people graciously donated cupcakes, donuts and cookies for kids of all ages. My favorite part of manning the tables is when a kid comes up and asks how much the food costs. The look on his/her face when I say it is all free makes me realize how special the event is.

The Grimes/Hooker family continued their tradition of having the most elaborately decorated house in the neighborhood. This year’s theme was the Really Reckless Rodeo. Martina was a reckless rodeo star who died while trying to tame a horse and Joe was a cowhand . Alana and Emily were dead rodeo stars and Eiliana was a rodeo star who was still alive. Noel MacFetrich as usual did the decorations on the porch while Martina did the scary hanging rodeo corpses.

Besides the Grimes/Hookers there were a number of houses with notable decorations
in the neighborhood this year. The Langenaus had a front porch shadow box theatre with jack-o-lanterns and ghosts. Ethan was a ghost and Andrew was a Ninja turtle. Leigh and Jim Mamary at 1409 Glenwood created a “Halloween Wonderland” on their front porch with cobwebs, candy corn lighting, carved pumpkins, hanging skeltons and scarecrows and witches.

Barbara Schwietzer had a great graveyard in her front yard. There was an amazing strobe light on Rubgy Road. The Rosens had a witches table with a boiling cauldron of witches brew on the front porch. The Rosen’s front yard was decorated with lights, cobwebs, and skeletons in a Haloween tableau. Sara looked very attractive as Dracula’s first wife and her friend Ariel came attired as a Midwood student. The Thorntons front porch on Argyle Road had numerous carved pumpkins, hanging ghosts and skeletons, cobwebs, and blinking lights. Eileen and Maria had costumes adorned with amazing exotic hats.

Although Lynda and Graham Clifford still have not moved into their house on Argyle Road they came out again to celebrate Halloween in their new neighborhood and distribute candy to kids. They promised to be moved in by next Halloween. Beth Dunfey had her mother come in from Boston and her brother from Willamsburg to join in the festivities. Although two year old Roy was sick, his two month old sister Nora celebrated her first West Midwood Halloween by sitting on the front porch and watching the revelers. Many of Roy’s friends from other parts of Flatbush came to share in our parade.

There was no rain and the weather was warm at it has been for the last few years. It is great when the weather is so mild and everyone can sit out on their front porches. Dawn and Sandy Weiss even set up a table on their front sidewalk to ease candy distribution.

Thanks to the many homeowners who decorated their homes and gave out candy to the
hundreds of trick or treaters. Thanks one and all for your assistance in again making West Midwood’s Halloween festivities the best ever this year.

Halloween in West Midwood (or Argyle Heights as my husband Joe Enright calls it) always makes me say “What a Great Neighborhood.” Next year is our 25th annual parade. Please give me suggestions on how we can make it even more special next year.

Virginia Waters

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