Halloween Stories Archives - StoryCorps

How One Soldier’s Halloween Shenanigans In Iraq Were “All Worth It”

Former Army Specialist Garett Reppenhagen has always loved Halloween — for the tricks as much as the treats. Not even the military could curb his penchant for pranks.

In 2004, three years after he enlisted, his team was sent to Iraq. Despite the stresses of that deployment, when October 31 rolled around, Garett still managed to find a way to get into the holiday spirit.

Over StoryCorps Connect, Garett and his former bunkmate, Thom Cassidy, remembered the creative costume choice that almost landed Garett in hot water: dressing up as his team leader.

Top Photo: Former Army Specialist Garett Reppenhagen at his home in Colorado Springs, CO. Courtesy of Garett Reppenhagen.
Bottom Photo:  Garett Reppenhagen during his 2004 deployment to Iraq. Courtesy of Garett Reppenhagen.

Originally aired October 31, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

104-Year-Old WWII Veteran Remembers Fake Tanks, Sound Effects in Top-Secret ‘Ghost Army’

Gilbert Seltzer was an architectural draftsman when the World War II broke out. Soon after he joined the Army, he was told he would be put on a top-secret mission — and an unconventional one at that.

SeltzerExtra_3 (1)

He had been selected to lead a platoon of men in a unit dubbed the “Ghost Army,” made up mostly of artists, creatives and engineers. Their mission? Deception. From inflatable tanks, to phony convoys, to spreading misinformation in bars, they used any possible trick to fool the enemy.

SeltzerExtra_1 (2)

Gil is now 104 years old. At StoryCorps, he sat down with his granddaughter, Sarah, to remember this unusual outfit.

SeltzerExtra_2 (2)

Top photo: A young Gilbert Seltzer in uniform in October, 1942, after graduating from Officer Candidate School in Fort Belvoir, VA. Courtesy Gilbert Seltzer.
Middle photo 1: A dummy 155 mm gun. Photo taken between 1943 and 1944. Courtesy Ghost Army Legacy Project, The George William Curtis Collection.
Middle photo 2: Gilbert Seltzer eating lunch at  Pine Camp, Watertown, NY, during the spring of 1941. Courtesy Gilbert Seltzer.
Bottom photo: Sarah Seltzer and her grandfather, Gilbert Seltzer in West Orange, NJ for StoryCorps in January 2019. By Afi Yellow-Duke.

Originally aired May 25, 2019, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Sid Radner

The great illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini died on October 31, 1926 at the age of 52. Famously, he told his wife, Bess, that he would attempt to contact her from “the other side,” and for a decade after his death, she marked the anniversary with a Halloween séance. In 1936 Bess gave up trying to get in touch.

In the 1940s, Sidney Radner picked up the torch eventually christening the yearly event The Official Houdini Séance™, and in 2010 Sid came to StoryCorps to talks about the tradition.

Sid, 91, was a protégé of Houdini’s brother Hardeen, and was once the owner of one of the world’s largest collections of Harry Houdini memorabilia. A few weeks after the story aired on NPR Sid invited producer Jasmyn Belcher Morris to participate in that year’s event (pictured below). Click here to read more about Jasmyn’s attempt to contact Houdini. It turned out to be his last. Sid died in 2011, more than 70 years after taking over the tradition. Click here to read his New York Times obituary.

Originally aired October 29, 2010, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

SeanceJBM3

Sheena Jacob and Juliet Jegasothy

Juliet Jegasothy (right), who is originally from Sri Lanka, tells her friend Sheena Jacob (left) about adjusting to life in the United States.

Originally aired October 27, 2006, on NPR’s Morning Edition.