It’s curious how good memories stick with a person, especially when it comes to certain occasions. With Halloween just around the corner, I couldn’t help but think back to a story written many years ago.
Back in 1973, a new reporter came to work for the Tri-County Times. Her name was Susie Artmeier. Susie loved to visit with people and had a special way of getting them to talk. One of her first assignments was to interview area senior citizens to get the scoop on what happened on Halloween back when they were kids in the early 1900s.
Susie soon discovered that it wasn’t as easy a task as she had thought. It seems that no one is ever quite willing to admit that he or she participated in mischievous events. So, in order to get a story, she made a deal – no names will appear in print.
Several tales went back to the good old days when buggies mysteriously appeared on top of barns or hay stacks, or were found the morning after Halloween with their front and back wheels reversed. Many a farmer went to his barn the next morning, only to discover his milk cows saddled and harnessed.
Of course, the half-moon house (outdoor toilet) was always a popular target. On one Halloween night many years ago, a Huxley resident decided to sit inside his little house and guard it. But the Halloweeners were too fast for him. They slipped up on the back side of the house and had it flipped before the poor fellow could scamper out. The house ended up on its side – with the door on the ground.
On one particular day after Halloween, the Cambridge barber arrived at his basement shop to find the stairwell leading down to it full of corn cobs and a snow fence. Another merchant once discovered that a manure spreader had been wheeled into his restaurant during the wee hours.
One adventurous soul “borrowed” the entrance gate of a city residence on Halloween, climbed the Huxley water pump, a distance of 40 or 50 feet, and hung the gate on the fan of the windmill. The owner of the gate found it rather difficult to find a volunteer to rescue his gate the next day, as the height looked even more dangerous in daylight.
A few younger “ex-Halloweeners” said that they spent their time pestering the Slater town patrols. The town patrols, as one source put it, were made up of older guys who remembered all the things they had done and got a little nervous each year around Halloween.
There were, of course, those pranks that didn’t go off just the way they were planned. Shocks of corn were piled in an Ames resident’s driveway in hopes of frustrating him a little. But the pranksters were a little surprised when they found that the man had shucked the corn and sold it for an easy profit.
There was the time, too, when several industrious fellows put a buggy on top of a barn and then made a speedy retreat. A few miles down the road, they stopped their cars to take a head count and found they had one too many. On closer observance, they discovered that the owner of the buggy was sitting in the back seat of one of the cars!
One former Halloweener told of the time a new threshing machine had arrived in town and some enterprising young men thought it would be fun to put it on top of the blacksmith shop. So they spent the entire night taking the machine apart and reassembling it on the shop’s roof.
As the first rays of morning began to show, the boys finished their task and started down from the roof. It was then that the men of the town appeared (with shotguns in hand) and “suggested” that the boys get busy and undo their night’s project.
And then there was the time that a few fellows rolled a Huxley farmer’s corn crib. After a clean get-away, they discovered that there was one person missing. A thorough search found the young chap pinned beneath the crib – with a broken leg. Only going to prove ”the goblins will get ye if ye don’t watch out!”
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.