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Does Whatever a Spider Can

It seems like it was only yesterday. Halloween was fast approaching and I needed that special costume. I was probably about second grade age. Back then trick-or-treating was a door-to-door – fill-your-bag-up-with-as-much-candy-as-you-could celebration! No popcorn balls or carrots wanted. Yes, a nice older lady gave me a carrot. She explained she had run out of candy. I said thank you, and later slipped it into my sister’s bag and took out a Snickers. Fair trade in my mind. Always looking out for Jodi and her eyesight.

Anyways, back to my costume. Halloween was the one night a kid can be a hero or villain, a dinosaur or a pop singer. If you can think it, you can be it. My mom once made me a pterodactyl costume. It was complete with wings and a black-feathered hat.

One year I was a zombie. I was ahead of my time. Maybe I was the first zombie and should be getting royalties on these video game versions of me. My zombie mask was completed by a red light right in the middle of my forehead. High tech for back then. Of course, I had to carry a car battery around to power it. Just kidding, I think it was (2) Ds.

Well this year I was going to be the web-slinging superhero. Where did you find such a costume? Hills Department Store. Remember Hills from back-to-school and Christmas shopping? I can still smell the popcorn as you walked in. Boy, do I miss Hills. Mom would take Jodi and I there often. I especially liked the soft pretzels and the quarter machine with the miniature football helmets. For Halloween, this was the place you transformed. Like Superman going into the phone booth.

As we walked into Hills, the racks were filled with costumes. Boxes were also stacked with masks visible through the clear plastic lids. I found everything imaginable, but no Spiderman. Was I disappointed. You know that feeling when you have your heart set on something as a child? This just couldn’t be.

My mom then put on her costume as Super Mom. She went through the Halloween section like The Flash. I thought maybe she would find one. Maybe, I would still have a shot. She did find one – ONE. Out of that whole mountain of make believe, one. Next thing was to try it on. The words every kid hate to hear. She made us try on everything, even those Penn State winter hats with the big tassel on top. “Mom, there is only one.” “Just try it on, might be too big.” It was. Big enough that the ‘real’ Spiderman could have worn it. Mom said we would make it work, and with the help of my grandmother – Nanny Maietta – they made the necessary alterations for me to transform into Peter Parker’s alter ego. Makes me wonder why she had me try it on in the first place. Oh well.

Now that I had the costume I tried to sell my dad on silly string. You know, real web shooters? Man wouldn’t that be cool. Slinging webs all over town!

Mr. Webb wasn’t buying it. All he could envision was silly string all over the house and yard, and HIM being the primary target. He was right. I had already planned to make him my first victim. I now know he would have been right there along side of me decorating the porches of the tricked, but I was young then and didn’t want to push the issue.

I wore my costume to the Mummer’s Parade. It actually helped keep me warm – back then the parade was held at night. I’ve heard rumors they are trying to move it back to that time slot.

I wore it to Central Elementary School. They would have a day when everyone would dress up and each class would bring a treat for a Halloween party. I believe my teacher that year was Mrs. Zalonis. What a great lady. I loved having her as a teacher. Man, I wish I could still go out for recess. We would often use the same Penn State football that took me through the Alabama tailgating party I mentioned in my September 18th story.

I wore the Spiderman costume to play whiffle ball – I needed the extra Spidey powers, and of course, I wore it as pajamas.

Finally the ‘big night’ arrived. Yes, my costume was a little tattered and worn, but mom had it looking great. It is that Halloween I remember best from my youth. For that night and many nights leading up to it, I was Spiderman.

The next morning mom retired the Spiderman suit. I believe she said, “You want to be able to wear it next year don’t you?” Thanks mom.
So this Halloween, go out and buy one of those monster bags of candy. Light up your front porch and welcome all of those “living the dream” for the night and enjoy helping kids be kids.

Oh, one last thing. Michelle reminded me that our family gets silly string every year to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Our sons and their friends ring in the New Year with a huge silly string fight in our yard. My good wife now buys it by the case. What a great tradition. She made it a point to remind me I was against this the first year. See I didn’t want that big mess in my yard and to be the target of Jimmy and Hunter. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Honey, you are right as always.

In loving memory of Bob English. My Little League coach and lifetime friend. He gave me “Spider” as my nickname when I was nine.

Jim Webb

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