I thought it would be fun to write about Halloweens of yesteryear. In the 1920s, Halloween was a night of tricks more than treats. When my grandparents told stories of Halloweens long ago, they never dwelt on the candy they received or even on the costumes they wore. They giggled and laughed over the pranks they pulled or had pulled on them.
In the small upstate New York town where Bumpa lived, families still had outhouses. One of the favorite things to do on Halloween was to tip them over. I am still not sure how they did it without being caught. I would think that the noise of the outhouse going over would have brought the homeowners running out to investigate. Apparently this was not the case,though. Instead, those homeowners wouldn’t find out their privies were gone until they needed to use them. All they would find was a big stinky hole in the earth and a shack on its side. It was bad enough to have to go outside on a cold night to use the “necessary,” but to find it gone must have made some people really mad.
A short distance from Bumpa’s house was a hospital. It had a long curving driveway with one way in and one way out. Late in the night, Bumpa and his friends went down there with shovels and dug up the one way/do not enter signs and switched them. The next day, patients drove up to the usual entrance and met a sign saying “do not enter” and cars coming the opposite way. The guys had a lot of fun watching the confusion. Nowadays, they’d be rounded up and prosecuted.
Mamie’s mom loved Halloween. Gram would send her kids out to trick-or-treat and then put a sheet over her head and hide behind a nearby row of quince trees. She would jump out and scare them on their way home. Knowing she would be hiding somewhere, they were on the lookout for her, but one year, a horse whinnied nearby and that scared them worse than Gram ever managed. They ran straight home and she didn’t get a chance to frighten them that year. They all used to laugh and laugh about that night, though.
It really is a shame that the simple fun of yesteryear has been lost.