Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Unbeknownst to me, my Halloweens when I was growing up were very green.

Though I didn’t always want them to be.

Since the year I was born, I never wore a store-bought costume. My mother was a fabulous sewer and she made all of our costumes using things from around the house.  From clowns to witches, baton twirlers to bumble bees – they were made with love for us, and then passed down to cousins and friends.

We never knew anything else…until that Halloween of 1978.

My mom had taken my sister and me to Bradlees to get some last minute Halloween candy. Bradlees was the equivalent of Walmart but better!

Trips to Bradlees were a treat. They always had really fun stuff that we would beg her for and this trip would be no different.

As we entered the store, we stepped into a Halloween wonderland full of boxed costumes depicting every possible TV character.  It was like a walk through the Battle of the Network Stars.

Chachi.  Mork.  The Bionic Woman.  My eyes widened at every piece of molded, toxic plastic.

And then – I spotted her.  Kris Munroe.  I had to be one of Charlie’s Angels.

I knew I had an original Sheila masterpiece waiting for me but I had to be Kris.  My favorite TV character immortalized in a plastic mask with big eye cut-outs and a one-piece plastic jumpsuit that smelled so good!

I could not find a picture of the "Kris" costume...but you get the idea.

I grabbed the box so as no other 9 year old could take it and ran up to my mom.  “PLEASE can I be Kris for Halloween?”  I shouted as I practically tripped over the cart.
“You have a costume at home that I made you.”

This was going to be harder than I thought.

“You don’t understand. I HAVE to be her!!”

“Now stop.  Put that away.  It’s junk.” she said simply and continued to push the cart, trying to avoid running me over as I blocked the ca

I knew I only had one option left.  And it was risky.  But the situation was dire and I needed to act fast.  The plastic smell was intoxicating me (literally).

I dropped to my knees and began to cry.  And not just any cry.  Full out wailing.  In between sobs, I told her how awful my life was and that I just had to be Kris.

She stopped the cart and calmly asked me to stand up and put the costume away.

And I did.

I was devastated.  I sat the entire car ride home wondering what lucky girl was going to get to be Kris - the best Angel ever.

When I got home, I saw the ballerina costume hanging on my door that she had made especially for me.  And while I was still mad that I wasn’t the plastic version of Kris, I decided that Kris would be on assignment as a ballerina fighting crime.

It worked.

Today, boxed costumes are a thing of the past but store-bought costumes still fill the aisles of Bradlees-type stores.  Made in China with lots of dyes and chemicals, there is no better time to bring back the home-made costume!

And a few years ago I did get to meet the real Kris Munroe (Cheryl Ladd) who autographed my Charlie’s Angels trading card.  That made up for the boxed costume a zillion times over.

I thank my mom for her decision that day and send her a sincere apology for what I’m sure was not a pleasant afternoon.  If she were alive today, I know she’d be sitting at her sewing machine with her glasses on, busily creating works of art for the next generation of Forbes kids (and dogs).

And as I walked by the dozens of Halloween stores that popped up for the month of October, filled with every imaginable character, I think to myself how lucky I was and give my mom a smile.

Costumes hand-made with love by Sheila Forbes.

1 comment:

Brutalism said...

Where to start? Bradlees was AWESOME. Of course, OF COURSE you wanted to be Kris Munroe. (And the smell of those old costumes was intoxicating...) I love your Mom for a) sticking to her guns even after your dramatic scene b) making you such fantastic costumes and memories and c) being green. And even a mention of Battle of the Network Stars. This may be my favorite post ever.