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Weird Dead People for Halloween



If you’re going to dress like a weirdo on Halloween, make sure it’s someone we know. Following is our unique list of crazy people from Seacoast history who you can be for Halloween. Included are Hermit Benjamin Lear, the Chicken Man, Molly Bridget, the Demented Man of Eliot and more.




VISIT Portsmouth Halloween Parade web site


Once each year you are allowed to parade through the streets of Portsmouth acting as insane and tasteless as a Republican running for re-election. That day is Halloween, a holiday recently reclaimed by adults. My theory is that, if adults must wear costumes on Halloween, they should dress up like people from Portsmouth’s past. That way we can teach local history to our kids at the same time.

Back in my day kids wore the outfits while adults hid in the shadows looking at their watches. And there weren’t a lot of options. You had your basic caveman, princess, devil, Lone Ranger, Frankenstein, vampire, witch, Wolfman, musketeer, fairy or cat. Beyond the age of eight it was decidedly uncool to spend more than 10 minutes preparing the costume, which led to an annual population explosion of hoboes and tramps, created by quickly applying burnt cork to the face for a five o’clock shadow and pillaging the rag bag under the kitchen sink. Simple, effective, cheap. The costume was merely the means to obtain a bag of candy.

But no more. Preparing for Halloween has become, like most Ameriicanized holidays, a competition fit only for the strong, the resourceful, and the wealthy. Watch out kids! The grown-ups are back, and they don’t play the game for Sweet Tarts.

The scariest adult Halloween party I ever attended was my own. Some guy – at least I think it was a guy – came to the door in a mummy outfit. He never rang the doorbell; we just found him standing there, arms hanging limp, his body completely wrapped in yellowed gauze. There was one greyish eye, it seemed, way back inside the bandages, half shut, half bloody. What we could see between the bandages, here and there, looked soft and wet and nasty. He smelled bad. He never spoke, not once all night. He never drank or ate.

Three hours later the mummy man was still sitting on the sofa, breathing that same wheezing gasp. We guessed he had not bathed for a week, and eaten nothing but tuna without brushing his teeth in order to develop that amazing aroma. Each time he stumbled into a new room, it was empty in minutes. The mummy was the last guest to leave, and we debated dropping him from a third story window just to see if he was already dead, when he suddenly rose, wheezing, and limped away. I still don’t know who it was. Except for a six-foot man at the Disney Store dressed in a giant Winnie-the-Pooh costume, I’ve never seen anything more frightening.

Which got me thinking that there may be a way to turn this sick new adult dress-up trend away from the dark side and into the light. For historians, you see, there is no Halloween. Like morticians, we live perpetually, happily, among the dead. So why not provide Seacoast-area adults with a DIRECTORY of local characters ideal for Halloween depiction? That way, we all learn a little about our heritage while dressing up like idiots. Kids can play too while trick-or-treating. When people coming to the front door ask, "And who are you supposed to be?" just train your children to recite a bit of history. For starters, I’ve provided you with the following data.


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Monday, February 19, 2018 
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