Halloween 1984: Trick or Treat?

Matt ‘Jammies’ Springer takes us back to his childhood and shares his memories of a very special Trick or Treat dressed as See-Threepio.

Halloween 1984 in small town Kentucky, one year after the release of Return of the Jedi; Pictured below is four year old me, my older brother, and our mother. I am the one fluent in etiquette and protocol, my brother is the one ready to storm the rebel blockade runner. Momma made us our costumes, and we have on Ben Cooper brand masks.

Photograph Credit: The Springer family

For those of you who don’t know, Ben Cooper brand costumes were a staple of Halloween in the 70s and 80s. Consisting of a low grade plastic mask and a smock, they lined the shelves of drugstores and supermarkets in the suburbs of America. They were also highly flammable. Momma tossed out the smock, and rightly so. The Ben Cooper smock made no attempt to resemble an actual costume. Instead, it had the logo of the property along with a picture of whatever concept you were supposed to be. Both images were included as to remove all doubt as to your assumed trick or treating identity—never mind that stormtroopers don’t actually have the word “STORMTROOPER” printed on their chest.

The masks also had a little slit in the mouth. Too small to be usable, it was just the right size to cut your tongue on. Which my brother and I did. Even though it hurt, and you knew it was a bad idea, the urge to flick your tongue in and out of the mask was insatiable. Like licking a nine-volt battery— it was just one of those things you had to do.

My See-Threepio costume’s smock had the Star Wars logo next a picture of Chewbacca for some reason. While my brother the stormtrooper had on his smock a picture of a stormtrooper above the word “Stormtrooper.” 501st material this costume was not. I was never sure if the good people at the Ben Cooper factory were worried that we kids (hopped up on high fructose corn syrup) would forget whom we were dressed up as so they made sure we would remember; or if they were just lazy. One thing they were not worried about was combustibility. An errant flick of a father’s cigarette was all it took to go from Hoth to Mustafar.

Instead of using the above-mentioned flammable smock, Momma got creative. Goldenrod yellow footie pajamas had me looking like a short Anthony Daniels. With a quick pull of a zipper, I was ready to go from naptime to trick or treats. My brother’s battle armor was more complicated. He wore a white tee shirt over white long underwear with white lady’s evening gloves. Tall white athletic socks over tennis shoes completed the ensemble—with strips of black electrical tape along the elbows and arm pits for added realism.

Daddy took a photograph right before we set out on our quest for candy. Here we are: ready to fill our bags with chocolate bars, suckers, candy corn, as well as the dreaded spool of dental floss from the house owned by the local dentist. A short stormtrooper and the droid he was looking for.