Pulling Down the Shades Halloween Party (1920's)

This party has nothing whatever to do with the adjustment ofyour window shades. What takes place is the pulling down from the centuries of “shades” of famous people of history and fiction.

Here is an invitation verse which will request the prospective guest to be in attendance attired as someone of note in days gone by- either in truth or in story­ whom everyone should know about. Be sure to designate on the invitation just which character the guest is to impersonate:

“From somewhere back in history,
or maybe in a story,
Recall to mind a personage who
left a trail of glory.
Adorn yourself to represent this
great one’s shade, or ghost,
And join at my house spooks of
others you have heard of most.”

5056 Washington Boulevard
Come as—–

Hallowe’en at 8.00 P. M.


Appropriately, we will first consider the shades-this time the window shades. Of course, the more shades in the room the better. At any rate, one is reserved for the “Honor Roll,” which will be described a little later on. The others are pulled all the way down, and on the lower half is attached a large skull cut from a full sheet of white mat stock. The edges are outlined by a strip of black crepe paper all the way round, and the eye, mouth and nose openings are also backed by black crepe paper. All except the Honor Roll Shade are so prepared, and then the shade is allowed to go back above the half-way line of the window. There the skull is concealed by means of twisted strips of crepe paper, alternately black and orange, draped across the curtains in front of the skull, one strip below the other in a graceful curve, extending far enough down fo hide the skull in normal position.

Should there be a chandelier or ceiling light in the room, hide it by hanging horizon­tally under it a sheet of black mat stock, on
which has been outlined in white crepe paper either a skull or Jack o’Lantern. At each corner of the black card, as well as half-way between -at the outside edge, approximately an inch in-cut or punch holes large enough to accommodate the sockets of your elec­tric tree (Chrismas) lighting outfit. Procure eight orange lamps for these. The wiring is all lying on top of the cardboard, hidden by a mass of decorative streamers. This will give all the light necessary, but be sure to have a few extra bulbs for the emergency of one burning out. Running entirely around the room is a single strip of cut-out pumpkin silhouette streamers, H 13, and eighteen inches below this is a similar strip of cut­ out cat streamers, H 12.

In this space, and in keeping with the general idea, are pictures of the various notables of the past, who have passed on, but whose shades are returning for this occasion. These pictures, however, are not works of art. They are spaced some distance apart around the room, and each consists of a sheet of paper on which is very crudely drawn one of the expected spooks in characteristic posture, and the picture is numbered. That number is the official number of the spook -himself. Immediately beside the picture is another sheet of paper so ruled as to show two columns of ten blank spaces each (or whatever number of couples expected). One column is headed “Male Spooks” and the other “Female Spooks.” There must be something about the crude picture to show two columns of ten blank spaces each (or whatever number of couples expected). One column is headed “Male Spooks” and the other “Female Spooks.” There must be something about the crude picture to show more or less plainly who it represents. Washington, were he one, would be a shade standing in the bow of a boat. Remember, so long as the idea is conveyed, the more poorly­ drawn the picture, the better and funnier it will be.


In the hall the guest is met by a shrouded figure wearing a headband marked “HIS­TORY.” The guest is led by History to a table, where a registrat-ion book is opened, a pen offered and ink set before him. The ink is really clear water, the inside of the ink­ well having been painted black. Of course,the guest fails to make a mark, whereupon the pen is taken from him and History remarks, “Thou canst not longer write­ thou art not mortal. Enter.” And he raps thrice lightly on the door leading into the “Shade Room.”

These raps are the signal for turning out the lights, so that as the guest enters there is only the light of a flashlight, dimmed by a single thickness of tissue paper, playing on two figures which approach him from the far corner of the room. They prove to be Modernism welcoming the ancient guest, and are a sort of flapper spook, hooded and otherwise ordinary spooks, except that their shrouds reach only to three inches above the knees. They wear black, heavy cotton stock­ings on the front of which have been painted white leg bones, including the knee joint.

In the darkened room the pale flashlight beam produces the effect required. Con­fronting the guest, they recite in unison and
in as weird and woebegone monotone as possible:


Then suddenly, and in piercing tone-in quick contrast to the above-they shout:

“WHO ARE You!”

As soon as the guest gives his name (i.e., the name of the shade he represents) the lights are turned on, and it is noticed that the shades are being pulled down by an old bent spook. He pulls down last the Honor Roll Shade, which is seen to be a list of names, hundreds of them. The Supreme Shade (for that is the title of the bent spook) runs a long finger down the lists until he apparently has found the name sought, for he turns and nods, and the guest is given a seat. This, of course, continues until all have arrived.

The Supreme Shade now solemnly, and in a cracked wheezy voice, informs the assemblage that one of the company is an impostor. He sweeps an accusing finger across the entire group as he hisses: “If one of you is mortal, I’ll find you out-I have two questions to be answered. All who can answer them successfully are beyond sus­ picion and shall assist me in the acid test.”
The questions are read, two minutes are allowed to elapse and they file past him, whispering the answers if they know them­ if not they must say they do not know. The fortunate ones pass at once into the “Torture room” to prepare the implements for the acid test. The others are returned to their seats to await trial singly in the Torture Room. The questions are:

What shade is like the announcement of an affirmative victory?
Answer: An eye shade, because the “ayes” have it.

Why is a piece of lace like a large black bird?
Answer: Because it is crocheted (crow shade).


The Torture Room is lighted by a single candle. Inthe center of the room, away from the light, are a bare table and anold chair. A small stand at the end of the table displays knives, guns, miscellaneous medicine bottles, a saw, hammer, pliers, etc.

The first victim is led in by the mournful voiced flapper spooks who keep shaking their heads and murmuring, “Poor thing, poor thing.” Once within the room, the victim is grabbed roughly and pushed into the chair. The Supreme Spook confronts the victim with the words:

“If you can take the acid we prepare
And do not call for water nor fresh air;

“If, with blood trickling from a gash,
You can keep cool and not get rash;

“If on the rack we pull your leg and crack it
And you withstand the rack without much racket;

“If, with a white-hot sword before your eyes,
You do not wince nor scream nor utter cries-

“If you can stand them-each and every test­
We know full well your spirit is at rest.”

Then, with the admonition:

“Remain quiet and keep your eyes ahead of you,” he calls to his aides: “Ready with the Acid Draught.” A small bottle is given him and he in turn passes it to the “victim” with instructions to drink it without fear as it is only sulphuric acid. After each test, the assistants all gather round him and they mumble “I don’t know, I don’t know.” The sulphuric acid is made from vinegar with a few drops of Worcestershire Sauce and a sprinkling of sulphur, well mixed.

The Supreme Spook turns, walks slowly toward the victim and mournfully calls for “THE BLOOD FLOW.” With the victim’s head held so that it bends forward, the Supreme Spook selects a large knife from the implement stand and, standing in front of the victim, sharpens and whets it to a fine edge. As he steps behind the victim the knife is exchanged for a piece of ice, which is run across the back of the victim’s neck, leaving, of course, some few drops of water trickling down the back. One of the assistants utters a low hollow laugh and remarks, “the beautiful trickling blood.”

“And now,”next announces the S. S., “the stretching test and the snapping of bones and joints.” A heavy rope is placed about the neck of the victim and one around each ankle. But just as the signal ” ow all together, onto the rack” is given, one of the aides announces in a disappointed tone that the rack is out of commission, and the ropes are removed.

But the victim’s relief is short-lived, for the flame and the sword test is ordered. The sword or knife is heated over the candle flame and plunged into water one or two times to produce an impressive sizzling sound, then reheated. Just as the S. S. steps forward to perform the eye burning test, an aide steps up and says, “Supreme Spook, the victim has enough points to pass without this test.” Whereupon the vindicated shade is released upon a promise not to reveal the horrors of the Torture Room, and the next victim is similarly dealt with.

When all have received the acid test, the Supreme Spook informs the gathering that it is safe to play, and that the game will be called:


This game will bring out somewhat of the information the shades have about each other. At one end of the room is placed either a long table divided into three sections or three separate small tables. On one hangs a large cut-out owl, H 551, on another a cat, H 69 and onthethird a witch, H 538. Behind the table or tables is the Supreme Spook. By this time each shade should know his num­ ber, as shown by the pictures on the wall, and he must keep it in mind. The S. S. picks up a card from the Owl Table on which is a verse describing something pertaining to one of the shades; something that is wise and good to know; then he takes from the at Table a “catty” verse about the same shade, and calls the shade to his side. The shade reads the verses about himself, first the Owlish verse and then the Catty one. When he has finished, as fast as the other shades frame the answers in their minds they rush forward and tell them to the shade. Should more than one start forward at the same time, they must form in line according to their arrival there. If the answers are right in substance, the shade described in the verses calls the shade number of the others in the rotation of their reaching him, and the Supreme Spook marks the number on the paper side of that shade’s picture in the rotation called. For instance, if Shade N0.4, male, was first to solve the questions regarding Shade 10, then Shade 10 would _call out “Shade4, male,” and the S. S. would put a figure 4 in the first blank space under the heading “Male Spooks,” etc.

Following are ten male and ten female shade verses for each of the Owlish and Catty variety:

Owl – of all Egyptian queens I am most noted
For what one thing-onwhich, of course, I doted?

Cat – What great soldier did I vamp
When he visited my camp?
Mark Antony


Owl –  What war did I do service in,
My everlasting fame to win?
Crimean War

Cat – What Charity now holds World sway . As I did in my little way?
American Red Cross

ROSALIND (“As You Like It”):

Owl – You must tell, or know not pardon,
Why I sought the Woods of Arden.
Banished for loving Orlando

Cat –  Is there anyone who knows
What I wore by way of clothes?


Dressed as a boy
Owl –  My name’s pretty and I love it;
Do you know the meaning of it?
Laughing Water

Cat –  I thought that I had Hiawatha cinched,
but what a ninny!
And now you know exactly why the ha,
ha is on Minnie.
Hiawatha did not marry her

JULIET (Romeo and Juliet):

Owl –  In picking Romeo I thought I made a fine selection;
Now can you tell the reason for that
parental objection?
A feud between the families

Cat –  I should have let my lover know that I
would not succumb;
Today you’d say that I was very beauti­ ful,
but dumb.
Only took a sleeping potion

Owl –  I sang from three to sixty and am known
By some name that denotes my power of tone.
The Swedish Nightingale

Cat –  What was it that I did to get myself
included in it
When P. T. Barnum said that one is born almost every minute?
Broke singing contract with Barnum to
be married


Owl –  My acting so impressed folk that today
They speak of me by what fond sobri­quet?
The Divine Sarah

Cat –  Though Dad and Mother both were Jews
What place of learning did I choose?
A convent


Owl –  Sometimes good and sometimes bad,
name the Chief who was my Dad.

Cat –  Who was he I fell for when
I was not much more than ten?
Capt. John Smith


Owl –  What man of valor wanted me to wed,
But in proposing did not use his head?
Capt. Miles Standish

Cat –  Although demure and modest (you’ve
been told),
Do you know what I did that may seem bold?
Asked John Alden to propose


Owl –  I wished my trip to prove forsooth,
Whatgreatand, later,well-known truth?
The earth is round

Cat – ‘Twas said that someone felt for me
A little bit of jealousy.
King Ferdinand


Owl –  What is the nickname given me
Because folk liked my honesty?
Honest Abe

Cat –  Tell me why the story books
Say so little of my looks.
Not good-looking


Owl –  What relative of mine, please guess,
Was England’s famous “Good Queen Bess?”

Cat – Name some great crisis, ifyou can,
Brought on by my young girl friend, Anne.
The Reformation


Owl –  Of all my different works of note,
What type of play were most I wrote?

Cat –  Now, when it comes to breakfast meat,
What is the kind I cannot eat?


Owl –  The greatest part in life I played
Was fighting in the Third-?.

Cat –  You know that I was brave and hand­ some,
But was I ever held for ransom?
Yes, by Henry VI


Owl – I bustled, hustled, ripped and tore and whirled;
Yet what act made me known through­ out the world?
Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty

Cat –  I served almost two terms as President and then
What party was there formed that I might run again?
Bull Moose


Owl –  Who were my friends before the nap I had,
Which proved that I was not entirely bad?

Cat –  Perhaps you do not wholly blame my wife
Because you know I led what kind of life?
Lazy, drunken


Owl –  If history is known at all by you,
What is there about me admitted true?
One of greatest military geniuses

Cat – What wife divorced (though loved and married first)
To satisfy my power-craving thirst?


Owl –  The proudest moment that I knew
Was when I licked my rival-who?

Cat –  The fact that I adored a warring life Tells why, at age-?- I chose a wife.
Age 16

It is best each time, should there be some who do not know the answers, to give broader and broader hints until all have some place on each list.

At the end of the game you will have a complete dance list for the evening. The first dance is as per the list with the picture of Shade No. 1, and the partners will be found already arranged on the lists. This is revealed to each on a slip of paper received
at the Witch table on which is explained that the partners will be found by numbers appearing opposite each other on the various lists.

Refreshments should be light, consisting merely of:




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