Saturday, October 05, 2013


I love old photographs and I love Halloween, and so when Scooter Polanski gave me the book by Ossian Brown called Haunted Air, it was love at first fright! This is a collection of anonymous Halloween photographs from America, circa 1875 to 1955. They were collected at flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores and junk piles. They have all long ago been lost to anyone that might be able to recognize their image or place them in time. Some show the blemishes of use, the chemical decomposition of aging, rips from abandonment or having been pawed over, but all capture a moment in time. The lure of celebrating Halloween, transforming yourself with a homemade costume and mask, I just love that nostalgia. Some of these photos are of a single costumed child, some involve large groups of adults, but all of them capture your full attention. I have picked this book up a number of times and just spent hours paging through it and taking in the details. Here are some samples for you to see:

I love that last picture - that little girl is just not sure what is going on. Most likely the man holding her is a relative, maybe even her Dad. The arms holding her are familiar and comfortable, but clearly that face is not her Dad. She holds him off at arms length and studies intently what she is seeing. You can easily build up a back story for each of these images,which makes them very fun to share with your family and friends. You might even find yourself going back through your own piles of photos and picking out the ones with you sporting hand me down Halloween costumes and trick or treating!

This book has a short introduction by David Lynch (see my last blog post). He ends by saying he likes these photographs very very much. I couldn't agree with him more! Here is a link to a few photo collections from the book.

Just a heads up - look at the pictures in daylight (or if you are feeling brave turn the lights off and look at them by candle light). Here are a few of the Halloween pictures I found in my pile of old photos. 

I am the werewolf. My little sister Carrie is Mickey Mouse and  my twin sister Stacy is a witch.

This year Carrie and I were witches and Stacy was an Indian. We recycled Carrie's witch costume for years and years!


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