Happy Halloween, readers!
I hope that you all have bought candy and are ready for the wave of trick or treaters that will be swarming the streets in the coming nights. I also hope that you are ready to see some particularly spooky costumes, or that you have one yourself. If not, do not fret, because today I have some costumes ideas for you that come straight from our collection!
First up in our slide show is the budget devil costume from about 1997. As you can see, this child has mastered the art of wearing a trash bag for a cape. Notice how black the black of this trash bag is, it will help the child fit in perfectly with the black of the night. In addition, we have the wonderful paper plate mask. The child has painted it with bugged-out eyes, a terrifying grin and awful horns. It is essential to bring out the horror of this costume. Of course, the piece that brings together the whole outfit is the pitchfork. In the end, this budget costume would probably cost less than $10, perfect for the frugal costume seeker.
Next up on our slide show of costumes is a group of children from 1966, with the two in the middle wearing some fashionable costumes. On the left is the classic Skeleton, from the famous designer “The Human Body”. As you can see, this child has brought forth the terror of a living skeleton by having the bones sewed onto the front of his clothes. What makes his costume unique, however, is that instead of going for the classic all-black background, he has opted for a mixture of blue and black. He also appears to have some kind of hat on his skull, which unfortunately lowers the scare value of his costume. Beside him is a much different kind of costume. Instead of going all out, this child has opted for a minimalist design. The mask, who I can only assume is George Jetson, is the only part of the costume that depicts someone other than the child. It is crude, but it is effective. Both types of costumes would be good for someone who is looking to put a costume together last minute.
The final slide in our slide show shows two kids from about 1942. These kids have gone all out for their costumes: the child on the left appears to be a Romani woman, and the child on the right appears to be a witch. Both of these costumes, as you can see, had much consideration put into them. They are not budget costumes, or minimalist costumes. However, these costumes are both classic examples of “non-scary” costumes that seem to be common during Halloween. Halloween is meant to be scary, people. So if you must settle for a non-scary costume, make sure that it is as good as can be.
Now you all should have some ideas for Halloween costumes! As you can see, nothing much has really changed in the kinds of costumes that people wear since 1942. However, even though all these photos are children ready for trick or treating, remember that you are never too old to have a costume for Halloween!
Today we are going to talk about something other than Perry, Iowa. Of course, we are not going to far, just down the road about 8 miles to a little town called Bouton!
Nowadays, Bouton is a quiet little town, if you can even call it a town. All it has is a post office, a bar, a fire department, and baseball field. Other than this, there a few churches, which mostly sit unused, and a magical little place called “Friendship Hall”. That is right; there is not even a gas station of any kind! The place is so small, you can literally stand at one end of town and see all the way to the other side (trust me, I know). However, did you know that Bouton was not always like this?
Way back around 1910, Bouton had a lot more to offer then it does now. For instance, did you know that Bouton once had a High School? The High School was a simple building with two stories with only a few rooms and was built around 1910. The classes were not very big, but that is typical in 1910. The high school even had a band that played in various parades. A high school is not the only thing that Bouton used to have. Bouton used to be a big enough town to hold parades, such as the Sauerkraut Days Parade that you can see pictured below (As to the activities of Sauerkraut Days, I can only imagine copious amounts of sauerkraut being devoured).
“Why did Bouton used to be so big?” you may be asking. Well, here is the answer: Trains. Bouton was a railroad town, where the town springs up around a train stop, to provide services and living spaces for the workers. Unfortunately, just as the trains left Perry, so the trains left Bouton. The trains left Bouton before they left Perry, but the result is clear: the town started to shrink. The last students to attend the high school, for example, attended in 1941-42. Eventually, the town shrunk down to what it is today. Thankfully, Perry has not taken the same route after the trains left, and has stayed vibrant. If you wish to know more about Bouton in the old days, please stop by and look at our collection!
Today, I have an announcement about an event that is taking place this weekend. Perhaps many of you have heard this already, but Perry has lately had a Community-Wide read of the book Enrique’s Journey. This book is a nonfiction piece by Sonia Nazario about the perilous journey of Enrique, a Honduran boy, to travel from Honduras all the way to the United States in order to be reunited with his mother, who left eleven years earlier so she could send back money to try to feed her starving family. If you have not read it yet, there should be some copies at the Perry Public Library if other people have not already checked them out.
Anyway, the event that is happening this weekend relates to this book. Sonia Nazario herself will be here on Sunday, October 18th, at the Performing Arts Center at 2:30 pm to talk about Enrique’s Journey! Not to mention that, if you have not been able to get a copy of the book yet, Beaverdale Books will be selling them after Ms. Nazario’s presentation, and will be signing them.
This presentation is made possible thanks to Humanities Iowa, in partnership with the Perry Public Library and Hometown Heritage and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA). It is part of a bigger project over the next year called Latino Americans: 500 Years of History. This project will have many events, ranging from talks and presentations like this one to a progressive dinner featuring dishes from Mexico and Central America. I highly encourage all of you to attend these events! Finally, if you wish learn more about stories similar to Enrique’s, you can read Sonia Nazario’s article that was published in the New York Times this past Sunday here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/opinion/sunday/the-refugees-at-our-door.html?_r=1
To a lot of us, Perry seems like a small, innocent little town. However, Perry is not quite as innocent as it seems. There was once a time when Perry was a hub for things that were far from innocent. Let me tell you of a story of one such time.
The year was 1923 and a big group of people had gathered in Perry. Most of them were dressed in white, but not everyone belonged to the same group. The first group of people were Nurses and Sisters, who had come to oppose the second group. The second group, supposedly composed of mostly men, were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Charolette Kaster, who donated a photo of the event to us, also gave us a brief history of the event, as told by her grandmother. It is as follows: “The KKK came to Perry in about 1923. In addition to motivational speakers, there were a group of "thugs" from out-of-town who had come to organize Perry and promote their organization. Some in Perry resisted, and were threatened with burning of homes and businesses if they did not participate. The first meeting was a large crowd, many of whom were curiosity seekers rather than Klan followers. There were some number of men who donned the white robes and hats/masks, whether by belief or fear, only each knows for himself. There was to be a parade of the KKK during a holiday. As they lined up, these Sisters dressed in their uniforms stood forward and blocked the street. None of the Perry men would harm the Sisters, so they disbanded. They did meet later that night, burned a cross in someone's farm field, but nothing further came of it. It was the beginning of the end for the KKK in Perry.”
There are a few other stories about the KKK and the march that they held here in Perry. One quote, which we believe is from George Soumas, talks about how his father knew who people were in the march because he could recognize their shoes. According to other photos we have in our catalog, the KKK also had a building in town that they used for meetings and parties, according to the photo. We even have a Perry Chief article about the march, which you can come and see in the database here in the Town Craft building. The most interesting thing that we have in our archives from the dealings of the KKK here in Perry, however, is an actual outfit worn by a member, complete with the hood.
As you can see, Perry is not quite the innocent town that it may appear. There are plenty of other stories about the KKK’s dealings in Perry, but you will have to go out and discover them for yourself.
Sorry for the late post this week, we are rather busy here at Hometown Heritage as of late.
However, there is something interesting that I would like to share with all of you. First, let me ask you this question: have you ever wondered if you, or someone you know, appeared in one of the Perry Newspapers? Well, all of us here at Hometown Heritage are excited to tell you that now, you can find out! We have recently installed on our public research station a database of all the Perry Newspapers that have ever existed from 1874 to 2013. Not only do we have this database, but it is also super simple to search! So now you can find out if you have ever appeared in The Perry Chief, or any of the other local publications. Or, perhaps you have wondered what was happening on this day 100 years ago? The database can do that as well! The database is a wonderful tool, and we are very lucky to have it. All of this is possible thanks to Mary Murphy and the Perry Public Library. They were the ones who put in the hard work to create this database, and then shared it with us. For this reason, we would like to extend a big thank you to Mary and the Perry Public Library!
I highly encourage anyone to come down either to Hometown Heritage in the Town Craft Building (see the below map if you do not know where we are), where we have this database on our public research computer, or to the library to have a look at the database, and conduct a search for their own name. Not only could you find something interesting in the database, but there is plenty of fun and exciting things here at Hometown Heritage as well. Plus, it gets a little lonely down here. So please, do not hesitate to come down and take a look!