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October 18, 2017 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Not dragon

Dragon inflatable Halloween decoration. (Image ©. All rights reserved, copyrighted, no permissions granted)

No, not a Game of Thrones promo. Molly Malamute insists she posed for the artist. Honestly, some in the neighborhood truly believe this is her alter ego. We try not to encourage her.(Image ©)

Halloween is like dragons: they have to exist. Keeps society orderly.

Not child’s play; serious bucks made (and pounds added – on both sides of the pond).

Construction paper pumpkins and damp bleeding orange or black crepe paper do not qualify as Halloween decorations any more.

Oh, Ok some cool science teachers back then had fog on their porches from cauldrons or tombstones hiding dry ice, but elementary school art projects were de rigueur for home holiday decor.

Of course, there was always the artistic mom on the block who went all out. (And we all wished she was ours.)

Somewhere some graduate student’s thesis seriously discusses “The Influence and Relevancy of U.S. Political and Economic Movements on Halloween Yard Decorations.” 

From simple pumpkins, to painted plywood cutouts, to plastic skeleton limbs crawling out of witty tombstones in flowerbeds, to inflatables that make yards look like a horror of tossed laundry during daylight hours.

Recently, strings of repurposed Christmas lights are currently stretching to limits. (Try and convince a kid that replacing the Christmas bulbs with orange ones is just as good purchasing the new strings in the Halloween aisles. “It’s recycling. Good, right? No, not just cheap, but we do need to watch the budget right now…”)

This  year hauntings’ cutting edge seems to be arachnophobia with giant fuzzy spiders with glowing red eyes in large stretchy webs. (Reflections of “what a tangled web we weave” these days?)

Early Halloween decoration after Hurricane HArvey (Tessie Rose Bailey/click2houston)

One hurricane victim who normally puts up a big Halloween display decided you might as laugh and roll with it. More photos and her story here. (T.R.Bailey)

Costumes seem to be shelving the old, too.

A simple bed sheet with eye holes cut out won’t float a modern ghost.

Not to mention the necessity of checking with intellectual non-traditional Halloweenists about appropriateness of a costume choice.

In any case, as with yard decorations, if it costs more, it’s better.

This Halloween will put a stake into the hearts of many here as a beloved institution, Frankel’s Costume Co., is staging its’ final act.

It would be difficult to find a native Houstonian who hadn’t searched those bins for any event requiring first class costume attire or props from Cub Scouts to mega churches’ Christmas or Easter performances. Renaissance Festival? They’ve got your Henry. Mardi Gras rolls year round.

The final chapter is understandable as the owners are well into their 70’s, the younger generations have now gone in other directions, and a developer finally made an offer they couldn’t refuse for the now valuable location.

“”Lonnie and I always said that we were just two kids making a movie,” Mrs. Frankel says. “Now it is time for a change of scenery.”

Best wishes to them after the final curtain call. Thanks for years of Wonderland.

Frankel’s assisted so many with the chance to be their dreams or nightmares – if only for one night.

Great spirits passing into legends just like dragons.

More real than you can know.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge





  1. easyweimaraner / Oct 18 2017 6:17 am

    I feel a little sorry for this family who had to bear so much under that evil hurricane, but I love that they try to see even the worst things with a little humor… that has class.
    I’m glad that not much people here decorate their yard… we would end on the rocks after a walk with our perforator on 4 legs ;O)

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 23 2017 7:15 pm

      At some point you just have to go “It is what it is” and get up and keep going. Things are much better here – not all fixed but headed the right direction. Lots of work for anyone with construction skills. Lots of young people who are up to the task looking to buy distressed houses and fix them up. Good all around (Just remember to shove those houses up higher on piers and buy flood insurance – because you just never know…)
      We do work about the small shop/business owners that lost everything. We’d rather support the small local stores than the big box ones.
      Spiders must be the In thing this year – huge infestations…will have to show some of the scary ones! Thanks for dressing top a comment


  2. Kate Crimmins / Oct 18 2017 7:23 am

    Love the neighbor with the FEMA sign. We were never allowed to rent (or gasp! buy) Halloween costumes when I was a kid. (It was the old days.) One year I wore one of my mom’s old black dresses and went as a nun. That was scary (for me). The good news about the closing is that they will get good money to enjoy the rest of their life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 23 2017 8:10 pm

      That lady did a series of vignettes featuring her regular Halloween decorations, flood damage, and FEMA signs. They are all funny. She was right: the area does need a few laughs. (Although the baseball team is doing their part to give people something to cheer about)
      No one I knew ever had bought costumes. Moms made them – or you got to wear what older cousins/siblings passed down – or there was always last year’s May Fete costume (which moms made from specific patterns with designated materials from the fabric store. Cheap outfits, but we had just as much fun – maybe more.
      It is nice to see that nice people sometimes do win – that property is worth small fortune now in an area that’s up and running for the trendy that can afford housing there. I’ll never forget their first store – that magic shop. sooo cool even if you were a grownup.
      Thanks for hanging up a costumed comment

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Allie P. / Oct 18 2017 7:59 am

    My neighborhood uses a social media app and one poster made the mistake of posting that she thought the decorations at one particular house had gotten too scary. By the comments that followed, the majority of our neighbors did not share her opinion.

    I love this time of year. I love the smells and the decorations. I wish I had the time, money, energy to be ‘that mom.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 23 2017 8:16 pm

      Remind me of one mom a couple grades behind my kid in elementary school who thought books with witches, ghosts, and supernatural things were too negative an influence and shouldn’t be in the school library. UGH.
      There’s always one person that thinks it’s too scary and has to make a big deal of it. Kids used to handle fright easier than adults thought – like the old versions of the Fairy Tales – I love/loved those all. October-November is my favorite time of year. It’s energizing with the change of seasons, the wild weather we have as the cool fronts make it here – and all the fall scents and sound. We actually made haunted houses in our garage for Halloween for a while. Fabulous holiday for so many reasons (if you can avoid the expensive costumes and yard decorations. Home made is spookier!
      Thanks for hanging around these haunts

      Liked by 1 person

      • Allie P. / Oct 24 2017 6:08 am

        I love the original versions too. Definitely not today’s kid stories. It sounds like you do Halloween right


  4. susielindau / Oct 18 2017 8:31 am

    That Fema photo is so clever!!! America has always been about the new. I’m all about embracing the old too. I’m pulling out a 1930’s gray suit and wig to wear for book club tonight. The mother in John Searls, Help for the Haunted!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 23 2017 8:21 pm

      That lady did a series of vignettes with her regular Halloween decorations and the storm stuff. Quite clever and she was right – everyone does need a laugh.
      Boulder is one of the destinations for all the smart people now – and there are fabulous Halloween decorations there – but you knew all that right. (Recently found out that Boulder started the official national Mad Hatter Day on Oct 6th (started 1986).
      I really need to relocate – Help for the Haunted – perfect!
      Thanks for haunting this comment bin


  5. memoirsofahusk / Oct 18 2017 9:38 am

    I just wanted to be a real witch. Still thinking about it …

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 23 2017 8:26 pm

      Hey, you could move into my old neighborhood – it was very diverse. There were even followers of Wicca – which was a big help when a new mom moved in and marched up to the elementary school and demanded all the library books with witches and ghosts and supernatural things be removed immediately as they were evil and negative influences…but, smiled the principal, “We are very diverse and have followers of Wicca, so it wouldn’t be fair to them…maybe just tell your kids not to check those out…”
      We all muttered about her…she was sure it was spells aimed at her. HAHA
      Thanks for joining the witching hour here

      Liked by 1 person

      • memoirsofahusk / Oct 24 2017 2:18 am

        We had a man work on our roof once whose wife was a witch. And we used to stay at a lovely b&b in Wales run by a witch and her husband. Not always bad and warty and riding on broomsticks. Which was the kind I seem to recall I wanted to be!!! In Zambia there are sometimes reports in the paper of witches falling out of the sky (naked, men!) and being found dazed on the ground.. Yeah, really.


  6. sustainabilitea / Oct 18 2017 9:47 am

    Great sense of humor with the FEMA sign. I’d enjoy Halloween a lot more if I could make some great food to give out instead of candy. Guess I’m a bit of a Grinch on the holiday (even though the Grinch is for [or against] Christmas.) 🙂



  7. Littlesundog / Oct 18 2017 10:55 am

    I wish I could employ a couple of good dragons in the orchard – you know, the friendly type who like to light a little fire under any critter that misbehaves (like the coyotes and trespassers). I love the FEMA sign. You have to love people who have a sense of humor when things look glum.


  8. Ally Bean / Oct 18 2017 1:53 pm

    I like dragons. There aren’t any around here to my knowledge. My neighborhood is lacking. I can’t imagine changing all the lights in a string from Christmas colors to Halloween colors– and then back again. My finger tips ache just thinking about it.


  9. heretherebespiders / Oct 18 2017 3:08 pm

    Aww. That sounds like such a fun business to run, too.
    We had a hurricane here on Monday, surprisingly enough. I didn’t bother bringing in most of the Halloween decor, and I was right – seen way worse storms here!


  10. The Coastal Crone / Oct 18 2017 3:31 pm

    Love the humor of the family waiting on FEMA. Might as well make a statement. Decorations get fancier every year and more adults (well younger adults) seem to enjoy the costumes. This year I gave what few indoor Halloween decorations I had to Goodwill.


  11. shoreacres / Oct 18 2017 3:39 pm

    Frankel’s closing is akin to Col. Bubbie’s closing. Before that, it was the downtown department stores, and Variety Fair in the Rice Village. Sigh. Even Froberg’s Farm isn’t the same — have you been there recently? They’ve redone the interior, and now have a regular bakery, and lots of seasonal stuff like pumpkins, but the veggies and fruits weren’t as high quality, and there wasn’t much selection. It may be that things will go back to normal once Halloween is over. They clearly were catering to the corn maze and pumpkin patch crowd — lots of kids.

    Honestly, I’m having a hard time believing it’s coming to the end of October. This has been one weird year — I feel like I should be making May baskets, not carving pumpkins!


  12. roughwighting / Oct 18 2017 4:04 pm

    When I was a kid, on Halloween. my mom put an old sheet over my head, cut two holes for the eyes, and pushed me out the door. I’d never do that to my children. I put a hole in the sheet for the mouth too…


  13. Aquileana / Oct 18 2017 6:10 pm

    Such a clever post, with interesting and relevant twists… I have always thought there is something quite ironic when it comes to Halloween. It is a celebration, but the origins seems to be quite awry: remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs… Pretty much like El Día de los Muertos in Mexico. However I feel there is something “trascedent” when it comes to it… Life and Death are two sides of the same coin…. Hey wait… but what does the “coin” mean? 😀 Love & best wishes, dear Phil!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 19 2017 2:07 pm

      Halloween in the US is a odd event now.Mostly for grownups – maybe that is not unusual for humans, but a basic need. Endless discussions at university.
      Sociologist have maintained for a long time that carnival/Mardi Gras/masquerades were adopted to let people “blow off steam” and escape the rigid social norms of behavior of everyday life – a chance to take off the everyday masks and let the inner soul/true self out for a bit. Then after the event, people would be able to put the masks they were every day back on and keep society neat and polite.
      Old and “new” Religions and their beliefs/explanations of life and death add another complex layer.
      We live in a very diverse area, near the border where Día has been celebrated a long time. We have items like sugar skulls, candles, and elaborate skeletons for the traditional alters/displays for sale in mainstream grocery stores here. Día customs and traditions differ across Central and S. America. It is not Mexican Halloween and many resent Party City and costume shops featuring and selling traditional Día items for US Halloween parties. It’s disrespectful and rude. (some picture of items: You might be interested in the links about Día at the bottom of this post:
      Fascinating subject, Halloween – in all its’ forms. Thanks for joining the haunting

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy / Oct 19 2017 9:40 am

    Halloween really does seem to have gotten much bigger than I remember it as a kid – I mean, really, I was just excited about getting to dress up and run around pestering the neighbors for free candy. I didn’t even notice the decorations. I needed that candy!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 19 2017 1:44 pm

      Once it was a kid thing – I remember anyone over 6th grade didn’t want to be spotted trick or treating. Ridiculed.
      We were sad to cross the threshold to “being too old” as we used to go for blocks and blocks in the neighborhood and filled 2 grocery sacks of candy ( about the only candy we got. Mom said it was bad for us. So we rationed it for months.) After that many poisoned his son and is friends with tainted candy for insurance money, it kinda slid downhill – then came the needles and broken glass. I think that’s when private parties became popular for safety…and then the adult hosts started dressing up and they just grabbed the holiday for grownups. Sorry the tradition got slammed. All that candy! Thanks for the treat of a comment


  15. PiedType / Oct 19 2017 9:46 pm

    Love that dragon!
    Always sad to see a local institution shut down. One that’s been part of the community for as long as you can remember. Time marches on, but change doesn’t get any easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 23 2017 8:35 pm

      There’s still a couple of local places – huge jumbles of warehouses of seasonal stuff that are not the commercial national party store brand. We try to support the old ones we grew up with. But as you say as owners age, their kids go other directions, and that bit of property is now worth a fortune, places disappear…thought I would die when Otto’s Hamburger closed – a local weathered frame building with uneven wooden floors, few tables and all the chairs mismatched – that had been there forever with the best hamburgers, cheese burgers, fries and cold drinks in a watery cooler. Cult favorite where you might sit next to former presidents, astronauts, opera or ballet stars, as well as soccer teams and ancient people from that old old neighborhood. We all wept and still mourn – no place is quite the same. The major chains can’t come close. Sigh.
      Thanks for flying with Puff.


  16. Jay E. / Oct 25 2017 5:59 am

    Sadly, I live in a place where Halloween is generally frowned upon – or at least not observed nearly as much as I’d wish.


  17. cat9984 / Nov 1 2017 2:26 pm

    A few days ago I passed what I thought was a great werewolf mask at Walmart. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that it was a rug. And you could scare your guests by making it growl.


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