Mesmerizing 1960’s Halloweens with Marie and Shorty on 165th Street in Hammond

2014-11-01 Halloween windy day

Marie was an intriguing lady. She was extremely thin with straight white shoulder length hair and long finger nails. As a child, I always thought she resembled a witch, but she was an extremely nice woman. Shorty was a short, gray haired, old man who always had quite an unpleasant smell of alcohol on his breath and would always be seen in the neighborhood scavenging for treasures to add to his piles in his backyard.

There was a spell about their house at Halloween time that would draw neighborhood children to them. They would recruit us to help set up their Halloween display. We would get to go in the backroom of their house where they stored frightening creatures and help carry them out to their fenced in front yard. They were technically savvy for the late 1960’s to have some of these creatures electrified to shake and light up.  They also had eerie music playing over the front yard.

Halloween night our block would have a mass turnout of approximately 500 trick-or-treaters coming to see this scary display, and Marie would let the neighborhood kids help tend to the crowd. It was an honor to be on her porch watching the trick-or-treaters who were mesmerized of the scary creatures. When the night was over, I would always walk home delighted for the fascinating evening spent at a haunted house!

Halloween…Marie and Shorty…best memories ever! If only I had a picture of their display! Now is the time for you to be Keeping Your Memories of how you celebrated Halloween as a child. Grab your pencil and paper or your laptop and start answering the following questions:

  • What was Halloween like for you growing up?
  • Did you play tricks on people?
  • What costumes do you remember wearing?
  • What kids did you go trick-or treating with?
  • What Halloween candy did you always hope to get?


Balloons and Butterflies – A Tribute to Delainey Belle


It was October 16, 2012. I will never forget that day. I was at work and was rushing to wrap things up because I was leaving early to attend the Association of Personal Historian conference in St. Louis that week. Unexpectedly, I received the phone call from my nephew that afternoon that I will never forget.

My twenty-three month old grandniece had left us. Christy and Tim’s daughter, Delainey Belle, was born on November 15, 2010 with Trisomy 18.  This chromosomal condition was diagnosed before her birth. They were told that it is a fatal condition with most of the babies dying before birth and those who do make it to birth typically live only a few days. And less than ten percent of babies with Trisomy 18 live at least one year.

Delainey Belle had been defying the odds given her. As time passed and her extensive care had all been put in place, her mom eventually returned to work. But fortunately on this day her mom was scheduled off. She loved Delainey Belle to the moon and back and was with her from her first breath to her last.

That day I went on to the conference and while hearing the importance of preserving priceless life stories, I was inspired to create a memorial book for Delainey’s short life. At dinner that night I shared with fellow personal historians about this precious child and was given suggestions on how to create it. I left the conference early to attend the wake and funeral.

The tributes started pouring in from family and friends. It was amazing to read the tributes of how Delainey Belle touched so many lives. The most common words used in everyone’s writings were: love, thankful, blessing, smiles, hope, and inspiration. We easily found pictures of everyone holding Delainey and smiling at her and was able to match them with their tribute. The love was shown in those pictures with the eye contact Delainey shared with all who met her.

Christy wrote this poem and read it at the funeral:

Delainey Speaks

Even though you think you shouldn’t,

Laugh anyway, it makes me smile.

Even though you can’t carry a tune,

Sing anyway, it calms me.

Even though you think you can’t,

Try anyway, I always did.

Even though people say you won’t,

Do anyway, I proved them wrong.

Even though you may have obstacles,

Overcome them, I was able.

Even though you have tears,

Shed them anyway, I had to.

Even though you think you can’t,

Live anyway, I did.