Thursday, October 15, 2015

Old School Halloween Pranks From Yesteryear!

Let's face it... Halloween pranks just aren't what they used to be. This is largely in part to how litigious our society has become. We'll sue our neighbors over the slightest infraction. Yet, it seems like folks used to really understand how to have fun on Halloween. Pranks weren't just celebrated; they were expected. Halloween was the one night of the year when devious pranks could be pulled without anger or revenge. It was all taken in a humorous manner. I've done some historical digging into the kinds of pranks children (and even adults) would pull on each other come All Hallow's Eve. Many of these pranks come from the late 1800's, though nearly all of them continued into the 1900's. Keep in mind -- some of these pranks may seem terrible, but at the time, they were understood as comical. Old school pranksters knew where to draw the line. They tried not to permanently damage personal property or physically harm anyone.

  • Putting a calf in a church's sanctuary, or even better -- the bell tower!
  • A popular prank before the advent of indoor plumbing was taking someone's outhouse and hiding it in a high location, like on a hill.
  • In the days of spittoons, pranksters would take the tobacco spit they held and paint it on the buildings of known prudes and blowhards.
  • Steps would often be torn down by the cover of darkness. When folks attempted to return to their businesses the following day, they'd find no way to enter.
  • It wasn't uncommon to place a person's property, like a coach or vehicle, on street trolley tracks.
  • Rotten corn or cabbage stalks were commonly thrown on lawns, as were burlap sacks filled with manure.
  • Pranksters would often target the homes of newlyweds and bang pots and pans outside for hours on end.
  • In old western towns, a common prank would be to steal as many vehicles as possible from local residents. They would then be taken to the local saloon and hitched there. It wasn't uncommon to see hundreds of carriages and coaches piled up, causing a massive traffic jam.
  • Moving around street signs (sometimes even trading them with pranksters from nearby towns), was fairly common. I just hope you didn't have to ride your horse or carriage anywhere the next morning without a map!
  • In the time when it was common for yards to have fences with gates, pranksters would often take the gate and swap it with a neighbor's fence. The next day, the owners would have to decipher which of their neighbors had their gate.
  • More crafty hooligans would dump a wagon load of hay atop the local school. If they really wanted to be devious, they'd paint the roof with manure before dropping the hay on it.
  • In rural farm towns, it was common for truck loads of produce (beets, corn, potatoes) to be drug off into the night and left in an awkward location, thereby making it difficult for farmers to retrieve their goods the next day.
  • Rudimentary machines would often be disassembled, then be put back together in a random, nonfunctional way.
  • An impromptu parade through town may be held by revelers in the early hours of the morning, awaking everyone within earshot.
  • More crafty pranksters may try to see who could swipe the local sheriff's badge before the end of the night. Of course, they'd give it back to him the following day. Talk about brave! 
T-Ping a house is for amateurs.

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