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Incognito Robot

Annette Miller’s mother made her this robot costume for Halloween 1974.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Annette Miller won this year’s Courier-Times Halloween Essay Contest. Her essay originally appeared in the newspaper on Friday, Oct. 19, but the last two paragraphs of her essay were accidentally omitted. The Courier-Times regrets the error and decided to re-run Miller’s essay in its entirety, along with her submitted photograph. 

The year was 1974. My first big Halloween party with the entire second grade at a house in Fortville.

Ben Cooper costumes littered the Brandon Family living room: Batman, Wonder Woman, clowns... all featuring the same plastic “ventilated” masks that left a kid slurping the moisture that built up inside as you breathed.

If you could breathe.

Not me.

My mom was a very creative, ceramic-class-taking-craft-box-of-the-month kinda gal. In 1974 she was in fine form and my brother and I were thrilled. He was 5 and wanted to be “The Planet of the Apes.” Not “an ape,” but the entire movie. Ma made a television set out of an old box and painted a scene from the movie on the screen.

I wanted to be a robot.

She made a paper-maché head from a giant balloon. Antennas were formed with foil-covered toilet paper rolls. Foil also covered my shoes – two empty Kleenex boxes. My silver-painted box-body was big and long and a little hard to maneuver in, but with no hair showing and no reason to empty my face mask every five seconds, no one had any idea who I was.

I was incognito. I recall dancing ... best Halloween ever!

It was a great memory that held up for over 40 years, until going through old photo albums last spring at my folks’. Sandwiched between my little brother’s Planet of the Apes costume and a shot of he and my dad in matching sky blue leisure suits, was me in all my silver glory. I smiled at the one little eye peeking through the silver head, my mother’s finger in the shot as she held the old Vivitar, then gasped in horror at the giant box of Kotex feminine napkins the silver paint failed to cover.

I have no idea where she got that box, or if she purchased her necessaries in bulk. But, I do wonder how many adults at that party wondered the same thing as they watched the little silver robot girl in the giant Kotex pads box dance.

Annette Miller, New Castle