Halloween 1968: My Pony and Cat Trick

In 1968 when I was in Grade 3 my mother made a papier mache horse costume for me.

Betty Safran in her horse riding costumeWe regularly watched The Ed Sullivan Show on TV and I think we saw some performance with dancers wearing similar costumes and this inspired my Mom to make one for me.

I saw the horse come to life as my mother made a wire armature and then covered it with papier mache. It was a beautiful white pony with a fushia mane and tail and I adored it. It wasn’t an easy costume to wear – it was big and awkward, but it was awesome. I wore it to school on Halloween and proudly pranced around the school yard in the PS 8 yearly Halloween Parade.

The cap on my head had a kind of Baroque style brooch on it that attached a feathery plume. I felt very grand. When I walked or cantered my stuffed little legs would bounce up and down.

Halloween c. 1968 Betty Safran in her horse riding costumeOn Halloween night that year, my sister went Trick or Treating with her friends so my mother took me by myself. But I wasn’t alone for long –  as soon as we left our house, Babby the neighborhood tabby cat joined us.

Babby wasn’t our cat, he lived with other people, but he visited us everyday and he and I had known each other since he was a baby and I was about 2.

So he came Trick or Treating with us that night, up and down the streets.

It was raining and the streets were shiny and black. Every time a car went by, its headlights would sheer across the asphalt and blind me for a quick second. I was so afraid that Babby would run in front of a car and get hit… but he was a street smart cat and sometimes I could see him as a black silhouette running along the edge of the street through the grass and bushes.

BabbyEvery time I’d go up to a door and ring the doorbell, the door would open and Babby would run into the house. I’d get my candy and then suddenly the people would notice the cat in their front hall or living room and there’d be a scream and shuffle and Babby would run back outside and go on to the next house with us.

It was the only time I ever really had a true Trick to play on Halloween – it was also the only time the cat came calling with me on Halloween.

When we moved from Bronxville, NY to New Brunswick, Canada we left my pony behind in the attic – it was very hard for me to let go… it had been such a remarkable costume made just for me, and such a weirdly wonderful night with Babby.


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