All in Good Taste at the House of a Witch

Homemade witch, Raleigh, North Carolina, Halloween 1970

I don’t know which is scarier–the memory of trying to find kids to trick or treat with my first year in Raleigh, or seeing the 1970s decor I grew up with through the lens of the twenty-first century.

Halloween witch 1970
The other side had frowning teeth that spelled ‘TRICK’

Halloween 1970: At the time, I thought our new home–we’d only been there six months–was elegant and lovely. And honestly, it was always full of light from its big sash windows. But now the all-over patterned wallpaper makes me think “Stephen King.”

I found a poem online to commemorate the simple witch costume I wore when I was ten. The poem hints at, I think, the magic of adolescence yet to be.

Hexli, The Little Witch

I whittled at a stick one day, —
‘T was just to pass the time away:
A little girl came tripping by,
With rosy look and witching eye.

With artless smile and simple grace,
She looked me sweetly in my face,
And said, ” That knife is sharp, I ween, —
Another thing will cut as keen. “

And then she laughed, and said, ” Good-day, “
And like a dream had flown away;
The voice, the look, was with me still,
When all at once I felt me ill.

I could not work, I could not play;
I saw and heard her all the day.
That witching eye was sharp, I ween;
O, that was what would cut so keen.

I saw and heard her day and night, —
Her voice so soft, her eye so bright:
When others lay in slumber sweet,
I heard the clock each hour repeat

I could not stay and linger so:
Like one entranced, away I go;
Through field and forest, far and wide,
I seek if there the witch doth hide.

By bush and brake, by rock and hill,
Where’er I go, I see her still:
The little girl, with witching eye,
Is ever, ever tripping by.

Through town and village, too, I stray;
At every house I call and say,
” O, can you tell me where to find
The little girl that witched my mind? “

I’ve sought her many a weary mile;
Methought I saw her all the while:
Ah! if I can’t the witch obtain,
I never shall be well again.

James Gates Percival

The Suburbs in the Archive