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Tuttle Avenue 'witch' has been celebrating for six decades

Posted: Thursday, Oct 31st, 2013

Shirley Sue Friend sports a witch costume she created more than five decades ago. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Shirley Ann Friend is known as the Witch of Tuttle Avenue, and she loves it.

For nearly six decades, the lifelong Watsonville resident has been donning the same black wig, pointy black hat and long black gabardine coat, part of a costume she devised in 1955 along with her children. To keep them from getting into Halloween mischief, she dressed them in witches’ wear, too.

When they were too old to dress up, they were tasked with keeping her pockets stuffed with candy.

The jacket has its own story, too — she purchased it in 1947 from the long-closed Cinderella Shoppe, which was located next the Resetar Hotel.

Her formula has been the same for years. She sits on her porch without moving, prompting many young trick-or-treaters to wonder whether she’s merely a large stuffed doll as they walk onto the porch.

Before they can ring the bell, however, she speaks, scaring most of them and causing some to run away.

Those brave enough to stay, however, get a treat perhaps more enchanting than the convection she drops in their bags: she gives them a story.

“I tell them that I’ll be going back to Witchland,” she said. “That’s close to Fairyland.”

How to discern between denizens of those fantasy worlds? Easy, she tells the kids.

“People from Witchland wear black shoelaces,” she tells them. “The others wear white ones.”

Terror and whimsy aside, Friend’s act has become a tradition in her neighborhood and with family, which now boasts two children, three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one cat. It is, in fact, a command performance.

“I’ve had 14 calls this week,” she said.

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