Sunday, October 10, 2010

Charlie Chaplin Saves Halloween

Every year as Halloween approaches I reflect on Charlie Chaplin. I know you are thinking I am crazy but Charlie Chaplin was a key figure in my son's early years.

My son was born almost thirteen years ago. We bought this little machine that attached to the TV to give him captions. Our trusty TTY sat in the corner of the living-room. A light flashed when the phone would ring. I bought an Ibook to do research and advocate for Haddy through email. I wanted orange but ended up with blue since everyone before me also wanted orange. We were hyper vigilant wanting to make sure we did every thing right to insure his self esteem would survive the first few years.

This is where Mr. Chaplin enters the picture. My son was not yet reading at the age of two and the movies available with ASL were limited. We got some Chaplin films and he was hooked. "The gold Rush" is still a favorite with him.

*At this point I will pause to assure parents we watched all of the films first to determine which parts were appropriate*

Soon my kid was playing at being Chaplin. He would swing a stick and hobble along. He could recreate the most subtle facial mannerisms. Instead of Mickey Mouse posters he wanted old Chaplin film posters.

Right before his third birthday a few weeks before Halloween I asked him what he wanted to be.


That was our home sign for Chaplin. The designer and tailors on the TV show I worked on LOVED Haddy so they recreated a Chaplin costume to exact measurements. The trend at the time for costumes was" Toy Story" and some other commercial characters.

* At this point I pause to explain I do not pass judgement on Buzz I am just trying to show how my deaf kid chose a different path. I do not look down on the little Buzz friends who populated the streets back then. *

On Halloween night we set off with a pack of hearing friends. I didn't want to have to tell every house he was deaf and interpret his trick -or -treat and thank you. I was hoping he could just fit in and enjoy the night.

Haddy had it all figured out. He would go the the door in character, silent. He would do his Chaplin moves as he got his candy. Not one person had an issue. At one house an older woman answered and asked each child what the were dressed as. She didn't know the characters that populated current media but offered up a smile. She got to Haddy and said,

"Charlie, Charlie Chaplin. Harry! Come here Charlie Chaplin is at the door!"

Her husband came to the door and a smile filled his face. Haddy then proceeded to delight them with a quick Chaplin impression. They took a picture with him. That is a magical memory for me. My deaf kid brightened their evening and found a way to live on equal terms.

Last year I posted about this topic but in regards to our entry to deaf culture

So this year he is thinking about being a sculpture......


  1. I find your post offensive and discriminatory to Buzz Lightyear!
    No, just kidding :)

  2. Chaplin's a great model! He also learned some sign language from Granville Redmond, who was in some of his movies. Also, in some of his movies, you can see him signing.

  3. Ericka you make me giggle! Thank you.

    Don I learned this years later, so funny how my deaf kid gets stuff I miss.