High School Halloween

My high school, Music & Art, in New York City (no, not the ” Fame school”), was well-known for the imaginative Halloween costumes of its students. After all, this was a school full of artists and creative people! I found out about M&A’s Halloween spectacular soon after I started there in 9th grade and as the holiday got closer and closer, the pressure started to mount.

late pass

Late Pass (Freshman Year)

I don’t know how I got the idea, but I finally decided my costume would be a school late pass. Yes, one of those little slips of paper you’d get from the principal’s office and give to your teacher when you were late for class. It had a bunch of bureaucratic jargon at the top of the slip, a large title, “LATE PASS,” some lines where the reason for your lateness was filled in, and more official language at the bottom.

At home, I took a pass and sized it up to sandwich-board size, making sure to get all the proportions right, and imitating the typeset lettering as well as I could. This was all before computers, so I really had to be inventive, using my calculator and ruler to figure out the correct multiplier to keep the dimensions consistent. Once I had created my masterpiece, I punched a couple of holes in the top, ran some string through them, and wore the pass like a sandwich board. I was a huge hit at school! It was definitely a one-of-a-kind costume and the other kids (and teachers) were bemused at my idea — and execution of it.


Delaney Card (Sophomore Year)

After that, I decided I had to be some kind of school-related card for my costume every Halloween. My sophomore year I was a Delaney card, which was a tiny card used to track students’ contact information and attendance during the school year. Pretty weird, and once again quite popular with the other kids.

late pass

Subway Pass (Junior Year)

Junior year I was a subway pass. That was a fun one to do, as each month’s pass was color coded (October 1983 was grey), and there was a cool water-marked code, “R-1,” stamped on each card. Not to mention the logos of the Board of Ed and the MTA. By junior year I had developed a reputation as the kid with the school card costumes, and I remember posing for a lot of pictures that Halloween as we paraded around the street in front of the school.

school i.d.

School I.D. (Senior Year)

My senior year we moved to a new building, down at Lincoln Center, and we merged with Performing Arts (yes, the “Fame school”) to become a new entity, LaGuardia High School. But the Halloween tradition continued, and that year I was a school ID, complete with bar code, my student ID number, and the new LaGuardia logo. When we showed up at school each day the card was fed into a card reader, and it had a bunch of cool little holes in it; I duplicated those as well. Altogether, it wasn’t a bad reproduction. And with that final success I ended my high school Halloween career.


About joshcomix
Brooklyn-based cartoonist specializing in nonfiction comics about topics like Hurricane Katrina, the media, travel, and finance.

13 Responses to High School Halloween

  1. man_size says:

    Finally. Welcome to LJ.

  2. dryponder says:

    Awesome photos/story, man. I love it.

  3. lordrexfear says:

    Oh the famous R-1.
    Ya know that kids still don’t actually know HOW to use their bus/subway passes?
    It’ll be like 10 PM and they’re trying to use their reduced fare school bus pass. It makes me laugh at either their sheer stupidity or their sheer audacity. Probably a combination of the two.
    You made a cute pass. Did you wear it TO shcool and show it to the tool booth attendant so you could get on? 😉

  4. hi –
    got the alert to welcome you aboard this crazy thing.
    no halloween for me – but in first grade i was the lead in a play: i was the “challah.” i wore a homemade sandwich-board challah, and braided my hair to “match.” i have the utmost respect for sandwich-board gear.

    • man_size says:

      Your Challah costume reminds me of a famous scene in the ’80s avante-garde porn film, NIGHT DREAMS [written under a pseudonym by Jerry Stahl], between a black man dressed up as a box of hot cereal [CREAM OF WHEAT], a naked woman, and a white man dressed as a slice of white bread playing saxophone jazz in shades while she gives the box of hot cereal a blowjob.

      • 4_eyez says:

        Night Dreams
        I saw NIGHT DREAMS back in high school with Dean and Larry O’Neill in Larry’s dad’s apartment. It was one of the first pornos I’d ever seen, and given my inexperience with the form, I was forced to requisition a couch pillow for strategic placement in my lap during the more “arousing” scenes.

      • man_size says:

        Re: Night Dreams
        And to think, NIGHT DREAMS [along with CAFE FLESH] is probably the most UN-arousing porno movie ever made. Unless you’re a sociopath!

      • 4_eyez says:

        Re: Night Dreams
        NIGHT DREAMS [along with CAFE FLESH] is probably the most UN-arousing porno movie ever made. Unless you’re a sociopath!NIGHT DREAMS [along with CAFE FLESH] is probably the most UN-arousing porno movie ever made. Unless you’re a sociopath!
        Different STROKES 4 different folks! (heh-heh)

      • porn challah
        Ho, shit!
        Dude, I just laughed so hard, i did a spit take all over my competer screen…
        (which needed to be cleaned anyway).
        (also – dare i say it – i just may have a newfound respect for Jerry Stahl).

      • man_size says:

        Re: porn challah
        Stahl was also responsible for writing the aformentioned CAFE FLESH. This was right before he wrote the TV show ALF [on crack].

      • Re: porn challah
        alf – i know.
        think about how long it lasted, and all those alf dolls and alf sheets, etc.
        pffflt. blowbiz showbiz.

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