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Halloween Costumes on Parade!

Happy Halloween and thanks to everyone who sent in their fantastic costume ideas for our parade! Our grand marshal is Molly, who tragically didn't get any snaps of the Best Get-Up of All Time but submitted it anyway:

Once, my friend and I wore green shorts and tank tops, covered ourselves in tin foil, painted our faces green, fixed our hair all nasty and then put masking tape labels that said march 1999 on the foil "“ we were leftovers! We won a contest, too"¦

Molly, you just won another one; send us your contact info.

Below are three other written ideas we love, interspersed with some great photos, including two women's very different takes on red capes and one awesome jack-o'-lantern.

You do have to be around people you know for this one, and do a whole bunch of pre-work (i.e., losing a whole bunch of weight). I had lost 90 pounds and for the Halloween party that year, decided to paint myself black from head to toe. Hair, face, teeth, hands (including fingernails, arms, legs, everything"¦. the whites of my eyes were the only non black body parts on me). I went to the party as "A SHADOW OF MY FORMER SELF." Fun and easy"¦.

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Some medical student friends of mine once came to a Halloween party dressed fairly strange. One had camo pants and combat boots with a plain white t-shirt. The other had jeans, sneakers, a camo jacket and camo boonie hat. We couldn't figure out what they were, and everyone let out a huge groan when they said "We're an upper and lower GI."

download-5.jpegI have to say that my all-time favorite costume was when I went as "Inspector #8" to a party thrown by some friends a few years ago. I don't think there are any photos (sadly!) but the costume was complete down to the ill-fitting pants, bad shirt, glasses, pocket protector (full of gadgets), magnifying glass and rubber stamp. I inspected pretty much anything I wanted to and left my mark if it was approved. My second favorite costume was when I teamed up with a friend and we were a clothesline. We had to stand about 8' apart the entire evening, which was bad for when one needed to use the facilities, but good because it kept us talking to new people.

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Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
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History
The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, MLive.com reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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