The Witch’s Tale was the first horror-fantasy radio series, which aired from May 28, 1931, to June 13, 1938, on WOR, the Mutual Radio Network, and later in syndication. Creator Alonzo Deen Cole, a 34-year old Minnesota native, convinced the station to air the supernatural series that he wrote and directed himself. His goal was to draw audiences away from more conventional musical shows airing on rival stations.
The creepy 30-minute weekly anthology featured a cackling host named Old Nancy, a witch from Salem, who, along with her wise black cat named Satan, spun a new wicked “bedtime yarn” each week. The show terrified younger listeners and was a huge success with New York children, who adored Old Nancy, often imitating her cackles and quips, in efforts to scare younger siblings.
The shows were broadcast live, recorded for syndication, and then distributed to various national markets. It’s reported, that in 1961, Cole didn’t think the recordings held any value, so he destroyed nearly all of them (only about 30-50 recordings exist today).
Most scripts were original stories but there were a few literary adaptions as well. Cole played the cat Satan and enlisted the aid of his wife Marie O’Flynn to play lead female characters. Old Nancy, liked telling tales was created by stage actress Adelaide Fitz-Allen, who portrayed the spooky witch until her death in 1935.Auditions were held soon after to find a new Old Nancy and 13-year old Miriam Wolfe, a radio prodigy from Brooklyn, New York was chosen for the role after Cole heard the girl mimicking the character’s trademark cackling laugh. Wolfe would play the character for several years, in addition to other characters, before leaving to pursue other interests. Veteran radio and film actress Martha Wentworth (the famed Disney voice artist) then stepped in to lend her voice talents as Old Nancy. Top New York radio actors were often cast to fill roles of secondary characters respectively.
In 1936, a companion magazine called The Witch’s Tales was published by the small firm, Carwood Publishing Co., which reportedly failed to promote the radio show properly and completely mismanaged finances and distribution of the magazine. Only two issues (November and December) ever made it into print. Although Alonzo Deen Cole was named editor, real editorial work was believed to be done by Tom Chadburn. Cole did, however, write the lead story for the first issue and contributed the plot for the main story in the second issue. The magazine’s other stories were all reprints from the American version of Pearson’s Magazine.
The spell cast by The Witch’s Tale came to an end in 1958, with talk of bringing the series to television. Cole was eyed as a consultant and story supervisor for the pilot, but the idea never came to fruition.
Do you love Halloween Memorabilia? Do you wish all the money in the world belonged to you so you could buy Halloween collectibles? Join the club!
I adore the vintage Halloween style. I especially love old Halloween antiques, but true Halloween collectibles are pricey, leaving many of us out in the cold. Interest in Halloween yesteryears has spawned a growing sidearm in the Halloween retail industry, replica vintage Halloween décor. Beistle Company, which started out in 1900 making paper products, was one of the very first companies to make Halloween decorations and party goods. Today, they make replica items of their very own designs! Pretty genius.
There is one downside however, and that’s if you’re a serious collector who wants real vintage merchandise, you might have a tougher time finding authentic vintage memorabilia. Those who wish to get into collecting vintage Halloween items, you need to do your homework. Learn the business, the items, the creators, the prices, even the people who deal in collectible market. Many of them are quite nice and always willing to answer questions or help out with their vast knowledge of Halloween history.
There are tons of guides out there. Two of my favorite comprehensive guides are Vintage Halloween Collectibles, 3rd Edition by Mark B. Ledenbach, and the newly published, Vintage Hallowe’en: Tricks, Treats & Traditions authored and created Robert S. Pandis and Heidi Pandis.
Halloween Collectibles, 3rd Edition-Mark B. Ledenbach
Vintage Hallowe’en: Tricks, Treats & Traditions-Robert S. and Heidi Pandis
Everyone has different preferences in the type of Halloween collectibles, they’d like to own. Below is my own personal wish list. Feel free to chime in on the comments below or hit me up on Twitter and Instagram and let me know what’s on your list.
Vintage Postcards, 1910s
Vintage postcards and other ephemera can be found at paper shows and antique shops. Prices vary based on condition and rarity of the piece.
Beistle Embossed Die Cut – Black Cats and Moon,
Authentic Halloween Die Cuts are usually thick cardboard and embossed, always check the back. Prices vary based on condition and rarity of the piece.
I posted a pic on Instagram on October 8, 2019 that shows the solo black cat below, but in really bad shape. I’d love to get another one and more like it.
Dennison’s Bogie Book, 1920
This is a pic of the original Hallowe’en, Harvest and Thanksgiving party planning guide. There are many Bogie Books from Dennison’s floating around. The 1920 version is supposedly in public domain, which means anyone can copy, reprint and sell them. If you just want the information, cool, but understand, you’re not buying an antique. I’ve seen authentic originals sell upwards of $150.
Anton Reiche Dresden Witch or Pumpkin Chocolate Molds, 1930s
There are hundreds of collectible Halloween candy containers from either Rosen/Rosbro or Kokomold to search out if you’re looking to get into collecting those (I hear the Kokomold witch rocket on wheels are extremely rare and valuable), but I particularly adore these Halloween Snowmen.
Vintage Horror Movie Posters, 1930s
According to this Guardian article from 2012, The Mummy film poster from 1932 comes in as the second most expensive film poster of all-time, behind the Sci-fi thriller, Metropolis from 1927, which recently auctioned off for $1.2 million, along with other memorabilia in a bankruptcy deal.
**All prices are only estimates from the lowest to highest auctions that I’ve seen.
Whenever someone mentions vintage Halloween, the first thought that jumps into everybody’s head are those creepy costume photos we see online. It took an awful lot of courage to be a Kodak developer back in the day.
10. The Real Mickey and Minnie
9. Ann looking raggedy without her Andy.
8. Has anyone seen my dearest Lamb Chop?
7. Take us to your former leader.
6. You’re next!
5. But, I like cornbread.
4. These are the Wild Things you’re looking for.
3. Bette and Joan, the early years.
2. Coming this Christmas, It’s a very very Texas Chainsaw Reunion!
Is it a man? A beast? A pig? The Hulk? Skeletor’s dad? Whatever it is, it’s terrifying!
October 1st is only a few days away and it’s one big Halloween party all day, every day, around here. This season, I’m encouraging people to do two things, 1) be Green for Halloween, and 2) take the Halloween Pledge, a pledge to practice one old Halloween tradition and introduce a random new tradition into your celebrations this year.
Before I share the schedule of festivities coming in October, I have an exciting new development to report, Halloween Haiku has new message boards! You can access the forum by clicking on the spinning pumpkin on the right sidebar of the home page.
The forum hopefully will be a place where we can have a little fun together. There’s going to be Halloween trivia, scary movie trivia, along with random chat and silliness, and a special contest on Halloween Day.
Halloween 2019 Schedule
Every Monday, you’ll find spine-tingling haiku so scary, you’ll sleep with the light on
Every Tuesday, we’ll be celebrating the best of horror cinema, dug up from the Hollywood Vaults
Wicked Art Wednesdays
Every Wednesday, I’ll be showcasing art from five of the most brilliant Halloween artists in the industry
Every Thursday, we’ll share in the memories of vintage Halloween and Halloween traditions
Friday Fright Nightcaps
Every Friday, you’ll find chilling adult cocktail recipes from the other side
Every Saturday, I’ll be serving up decadent desserts and savory Halloween recipes so sinful, you might need an exorcism on November 1st.
Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and read the chilling classics of the Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe
October 31st – Halloween Haiku Challenge
On Halloween day, people will have the opportunity to post their own original, spooky haiku for a chance to win a prize bag, valued over $25 (more details to be announced).
31 Days of Halloween (on Social Media)
Instagram – Halloween Haiku Photo Challenge Join us in posting cool pics to match the #HalloweenHaikuPhotoChallenge this October. Don’t worry about missing any days. It’s Halloween, you should be out having fun. You can post anytime, just remember to use: #HalloweenHaikuPhotoChallenge
Twitterween Halloween Haiku is a proud member of the Samhain Society, and I’ll be happily sharing the Halloween fun and festivities of my fellow community-goers. Everyone has been working so hard and I’m super stoked to join in the celebrations.
Pinterest Check out our boards for more Halloween fun ideas and inspiration. We’ve got at least 5 new boards!
Wishing you all a fun, safe and memorable, haunting season!
As we celebrate World Environment Day, here’s ten things that will help save the environment this Halloween.
Not just a Jack-o’-lantern
Don’t let your pumpkin guts go to waste. Save the seeds and bake them for an awesome snack. Use the flesh to make puree or pumpkin juice, or even eat it raw. Check for recipes online. You can also freeze pumpkin and use it later to make sides, pies and other holiday desserts.
Shopping for Halloween lovers is surprisingly easy and a lot of fun when you know what to look for. But, sometimes under the pressure and stress of the holidays, the ideas get lost under the endless rows of candy canes and the mountains of sugary glittery goodness. Here are a few suggestions for perfectly dark and gothic gifts, that won’t break the bank and totally ensures your favorite Halloweenophile will have a scary Christmas at all. Remember to shop small business when you can!
Price $10 and up
By giving the gift of a Halloween or scary print, not only are you buying an awesome gift, but you’re also supporting the arts and helping local and living artists thrive. That’s a brilliant gift for us all.
Halloween is a spooky time but it’s also a time of fun. Here are ten classic comedies that will send a chill up your spine and tickle your funny bone at the same.
The Ghost Train (1941) Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch
After scheduling mishap, a group of travelers are stranded at an isolated station, fearing the arrival of legendary phantom train.
For whatever reasons, British director Walter Forde remade his own quirky supernatural comedy, based on a theater play, just ten years later. It was mostly a vehicle to showcase the talents of comedian Arthur Askey, whose Chaplin-like antics are definitely the highlight of the movie.
Spooks Run Wild (1941) Leo Gorcey, Bela Lugosi
The East Side Kids (The Bowery Boys) are stranded in a small rural town camp for boys with a “monster killer” roaming the countryside.
If you’ve never seen any of the 40 plus movies starring the East Side Kids a.k.a the Bowery Boys, expect goofiness, hijinks and a bunch of laughs. Horror star Bela Lugosi joins the mayhem, playing a mysterious magician caught up in case of mistaken identity.
Why we love them: Rhode Montijo specializes in that vintage Halloween look, where his works truly capture the whimsical innocence of Halloween. When browsing through prints, be prepared for a flood of childhood memories to engulf you and remind you why you fell in love with Halloween in the first place.
Halloween is coming and along with it, peoples’ unwarranted opinions. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s the Halloween haters, people who want to outright ban Halloween from existence. Haters really bring us down, they spread lies and misinformation and steal our precious time and energy. Now, you could get stabby and go to jail, or, you could deal with them like a grown-up. The first step is figuring out who’s who and what they want. Then, you can draw up an effective game plan to get the fools off your back!
To be fair, most dentists don’t hate Halloween, it keeps them in business after all, but they do hate cavities, and candy causes cavities. No one on the block wants to be known as a detriment to children’s dental health. So, if your local gums doctor is making you feel guilty, here are two easy solutions: 1) offer healthier snacks, i.e., pretzels, graham crackers or organic fruit snacks, and 2) offer alternative treats, i.e., money, Halloween themed little puzzles, games, toys, buttons, erasures, pencils, crayons, stickers, temporary tattoos, yo-yos, and my personal favorite, glow sticks and glow bracelets.
Like dentists, Christmas lovers don’t really hate Halloween either. They just love Christmas more! Their season is coming and they’re anxious to get to it. Just like we are now, wanting summer to end early, they can’t wait to push out the Great Pumpkin and usher in Santa Claus.
Halloween and Christmas have a lot in common. So, talk about that. Let them know you completely understand where they’re coming from. Share your ideas. Many décor ideas, recipes and traditions are easily swappable between the holidays. Halloween and Christmas go together like peanut butter and jelly, just look at Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.
If never fails, every year, social justice rears its ugly head and throws up all over your Halloween decorations. There’s always that one hipster guy who tries to guilt you, by suggesting Halloween is just corporate scheme to sucker consumers into buying, buying, buying, to line the overstuffed pockets of some fat cat on Wall St. If you live in America, there’s just no good counter-argument to capitalism gone wild.
However, if you find yourself in this debate, kindly mention, that between the millennials’ penchant for simple, less costly celebrations and families searching for fun and safe alternatives to trick-or-treating, Halloween is coming full circle. Home parties and parades are making a comeback. The excess and indulgence of years past are dying out and communities are coming together for events, like Harvest celebrations, carnivals and trunk-or-treating. Now more than ever, people are aware of Halloween history and celebrating the old traditions.
Sometimes the biggest enemies are our own kind. Halloween snobbery accounts for more disgruntled posts from Halloweenophiles than any other complaint. Everyone needs to keep this in mind, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Halloween! This goes for those trying to impose age limits on trick-or-treating. There are none. Teens can absolutely go trick-or-treating, and I for one, would rather see that than hearing about teens hanging out in some back alley, where they’re much more likely to find trouble.
Halloween is a global holiday, and everyone has the right to celebrate in a way that fits their beliefs, lifestyle and personality. It’s truly the one holiday where diversity thrives. It’s a little ridiculous to try and make people only adhere to your beliefs and customs, when honoring the spirit of Halloween is all about sharing love for the holiday with others.
No one should apologize for expressing themselves on their favorite holiday, but if you are a person who likes to recreate gory horror movie scenes in the front yard, you must understand that children don’t process scenes of violence and horror in the same way adults do. There is such a thing as too far, especially if kids don’t understand what it is that they’re seeing. Now, most people aren’t complete sociopaths or too egotistical to compromise for the sake of the neighborhood. I mean, Halloween season comes once a year. Do you really want to start a bitter feud over painted foam and casting rubber?
When confronted over gory yard displays, hear your neighbors out. Don’t be dismissive, rather try to have good open communication. If you’re nice, neighbors might be more willing to compromise with you as well. You could agree to cover up certain scary props with a sheet until Halloween night. Maybe the lights are too bright or animatronics are too noisy and neighbors can’t sleep. You could agree to give your neighbors a reprieve by turning everything off early, or running the yard display only two or three times a week, instead of every night.
The true Halloween hater. The person who uses religion as the basis for wanting to ban Halloween. They believe Halloween perpetuates sin, corrupts the innocent and celebrates demons and witchcraft, and is all about worshipping the devil. This is all nonsense and just another chapter in the centuries’ old persecution of pagans.
For that reason, there’s little you can say to change their minds. So, it’s important to stop the spread of lies and misinformation instead. When confronted by angry churchgoers, inform them, that there have been more concerted efforts to bring back more traditional harvest celebrations and family-friendly Halloween, alleviating all talk about devil worship and witches. Remind them that pagan celebrations were already accepted by the church centuries ago, that’s how we got Halloween in the first place. And, if they start complaining about all the sex and gluttony associated with Halloween, well, that’s about the time you explain the idea of psychological projection.
Honestly, I never really understood the hatred. I mean, if the original purpose of Halloween was to ward off evil spirits, then, bible thumpers should be thanking us for keeping everybody safe!
Just remember, in all situations that keeping your cool is number one priority. Have a happy Halloween season!