Larry Racioppo is from Brooklyn, but he means old Brooklyn — back when it was just “Red Hook and South Brooklyn and nothing else.” The self-described "ancient" photographer grew up in a family of longshoremen in Sunset Park in the 1950s and ’60s and moved to an apartment in Park Slope in 1973 that cost $125. “I could drive a cab two days a week to cover rent, and the rest of the time I practiced photography,” Racioppo said.
In those days, he photographed all over Brooklyn, but he realized that he loved photographing his neighborhood on Halloween especially. “Back then, trick-or-treating meant egging houses, or spraying people with shaving cream, or filling long socks with colored chalk and whacking people with them,” he said. “But I liked the pictures so much, I went back the next year and the next. I decided to make an art book.”
Racioppo’s 1980 book, Halloween, and the collection of about 100 photos were eventually donated to the New York Public Library’s photo collection. “I loved photographing kids, and I still love photographing kids,” Racioppo said. “Kids are so open. As people get older, we get more closed, more suspicious, more worried. Kids on the street played some of the same games I played as a kid: stickball and racing in the street. So it was easy then to talk to them about it and take a photo.”
These photos are a journey back in time, to The Bionic Woman and Star Wars, before Elsa and Shrek, and before you could readily expect a giant candy bar behind every door. Giant warehouse parties weren’t the norm, but you still can’t beat these ghost costumes.