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Friday, October 31, 2008

An Arabian Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Begging, or trick-or-treating, is believed to have begun in the United States in the 1910s. Around the same time, costumes for children and adults became popular for Halloween parties.

In this 1915 photograph, Diamond Lake resident, Gordon Ray, is wearing what appears to be a store bought costume (note the unusual fabric and crease marks). The photo was taken “the morning after” Gordon attended a masquerade dance in Long Grove.

I have often referred to this as Gordon’s “Valentino” costume, but in his autobiography he does not identify the costume, only the dance he attended. Also, Rudolph Valentino—the silent-film star—did not make his debut until 1921, six years after this photo was taken. It is also tempting to call this a “Lawrence of Arabia” costume, but again the association is too late. The British soldier, T.E. Lawrence, became known as “Lawrence of Arabia” for his role in the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918.

The Arabian-themed costume was probably a popular choice due to the West’s long fascination with Eastern cultures. Gordon would have seen any number of Arabian images in films, nickelodeon reels, vaudeville acts, books, and newspapers.

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