Halloween in Bland County
We combed the interviews of the Bland County History Archives for mention of Halloween meanness and we found plenty of it. They were much meaner back in the day. Trick or Treat was all trick and little treat.
028-Aunt Laurie (Laura Newman)
On Halloween we didn’t have any costumes. We, we put on a big, some kind of an old big relic of a thing. We blacked our face with soot out of the stove, and took crayons and painted our lips red. We looked like clowns. Oh yes, we’d gang up and go out on Halloween. Sometimes then we would put something black over our face and but out our eyes, our nose, and our mouth, you know and take them crayons and paint em. We was right scary looking.
On Halloween we just went out and piddled, never did anything bad. We didn’t play but one trick and all I can remember is that one year we went down and Clay Bolgle was staying with Mr. and Mrs. Helby and we got the wagon out, they stole the wagon and took the girls on a wagon ride and then got up on Kimberlin and dumped the wagon in a hole of water. And he was working for them, so the next morning he had to take the mules and go get the wagon. We never did get in trouble for it though.
We had a lot of fun at Halloween time; we used to go around turn over outhouses, and put wagons on top of barns very carefully, with a lot of planning. We were always careful not to tear down too many gates because there was livestock gettin out, but we had a lot of fun.
320-Bill and Bessie Dent
On Halloween, us boys just ran around and played tricks on people, we didn’t go trick-or-treating. People used to put stuff in the roads and me and my buddy didn’t like it and we used to go around and make sure all the stuff got out of the roads so if anybody got sick they wouldn’t have problems getting to the doctor, wreck goin to the doctor or something. I didn’t like that, puttin that stuff in the road, and he didn’t either so we would walk around through the community and if anybody put anything in the road we would put it out.
However, us girls would get together and have a little party. We would stay over night with each other. We told ghost stories and played bobbin for apples and uh I can’t member what other Halloween games we played and I won’ t tell you everything we did. We did little mean stuff. One night I went out to my next door neighbor’s house , my brother and I did, and they was comin up to my home we went out there and got with them, there was about four or five of us, Jordan was comin back out the road to my home and all a sudden this white something jumped out from behind uh a light pole and went BOO and again it when BOO so there’s a boy, he must have been twelve or fourteen no twelve years old he just reach down there and got him a hand full of rocks and began throwing them at that white thing and all a sudden my mother yelled out don’t throw those rocks, and it was her under a sheet.
On Halloween, we would knock on people’s doors and run. We would put a cross-tie against someone’s door and knock on their door and when they would open their door it would fall on their floor and we take their swings and hang them up in trees. We would turn their toilets over and little things like that, just small things. We never got caught cause we was sneaky.
On Halloween people would put soap on people’s car windows or house windows as a prank. They’d turn off their lights off, whatever, take their gates off the hinges. Of course i took part in some of them, not all of it though.
Now you know we didn’t do nothing on Halloween just turned somebody’s johnny house over stuff like that soaped a few winders and pile leaves on their porch or something like that. Had a woman had a store up here in town and she’d give us all candy and everything not to soap her winders but after she closed up boy put the soap to ‘em.
081-Charles Arnold Clark
On Halloween, we cut trees and put ‘em in the road, took wagons apart, some people would soap windows and tie strings across the road. These things you couldn’t do today because traffic goes so fast and it would be harmful for people to just do common things as we did when I was growing up.
Oh, back then the biggest prank that I think was ever played at Halloween was turning over outhouses, which was the most common thing that happened. But I never got involved in that stuff. I think they used to soap people’s windows, they would take a cake of soap and go around to soap your windows and things. When i was proabably eight or ten, twelve years old, there was no such thing as trick-or-treating. It didn’t start here till maybe the late fifties. I remember cuttin’ trees in the road, taking wagons apart. Some people would soap windows and tie strings across the road. These things you couldn’t do today because traffic goes so fast and it would be harmful for people to just do common things as we did when I was growing up.
Well from the time I was a child growing up, people in our community dressed up with the children and went out on Halloween. And I remember Edgar Newberry, who was Ira Kidd’s brother in law, being with my mother and dad and us kids, ah, them going along singing on Halloween and what they was singing was gospel songs. Some pranks were played like lots of people broke eggs and ah, wrote with soap on windows and boys turned outhouses over.
On Halloween, us girls would sometimes tie a string across the road and hear a car coming and I think we’d jump over the bank and hide. Of course that didn’t stop the car because it wasn’t a big thread but we might have thought it would have did something but it wasn’t I guess the cars went on the didn’t see us they probably didn’t see the string.
We had Halloween programs to where we could dress up, we didn’t have costumes like they do now, we’d back our faces with charcoal or something like that, then at school we’d have little programs like that we’d dress up.
259-Frasier and Jean Lambert
After I was big enough to get out at night, why, I just rambled around of the night, and Halloween night, and got into a lot of meanness and stuff. I’d tear up some stuff with people, which I know I shouldn’t have done. We’d pull people would stack their hay around poles, you know. We’d pull them poles up out of their hay stacks, and a lot a stuff. Maybe get their old buggies they had a horse and buggy back in them days we’d get their old buggies, maybe, and take them and put ‘em up on top of a hay stack or something like that, all stuff like that.
On Halloween boys would cut trees across the road and turned outhouses over. They would fill the road full of trees and take soap on peoples windshields and just do everything. That was up until the 40s back then.
A lot of times there was meanness that went on during Halloween, they’d go out and block the roads, and tear fences down.
Halloween was a fun time. We didn’t have the worries that you have, maybe somebody with candy, put razor blades or something in it. I can remember trick and treating up to when I was fifteen years old. But then again that goes back to candy. Wasn’t as free…I mean my girls would never be able to understand what it was like if they were me growing up. Because a big thing for us at night time, and it wasn’t but twice a week, momma would go into her cedar chest which was locked…(laugh) and see…would pull out candy kisses or the little miniature things, and you know we might get one or two pieces of that, and that was big. But you know women then did a lot of baking cakes, and we made a lot of preacher cookies. Where my girls are just used to going to a drawer, Sara would die and I would to because I am a big chocolate fan. If I didn't have the drawer that we have at the house now, we just go and pull it out, and eat whatever you want to back then we were daring as far as candy went. So you know that made it special, ‘cause you know you were going to get a lot of candy. And you always went. We had this thing as kids, if you know there was a house you know there was always someone who would give out a candy bar, God they were rich. So what we would do: we would swap masks around, and probably hit that house three or four times, same kid. I’m sure they had to be aware of it, that we were doing something. They never bothered and put it down in the bag. And I can remember coming with a grocery bag; you know a grocery bag full of candy. And the trick was the next day at school I probably got more beatings one day…the day after Halloween than any other day. No teachers would tolerate any gum, any candy whatsoever. Here you are: you just went out that night. You got all that booty; you going to try it at school. And some of it was some of this wax type candy. ‘Cause they used to make some of this wax that would turn into chew gum, and they would make little harmonicas, or little witches and different types of instruments. And you played on it a little bit. You just turned around and started chewing on it for gum; start biting it off well you know. There were tell-tale signs, your mouth would be so full, but I can remember my math teacher, her name was Mrs. Bishop. She told me to spit my chewing gum out, and I did exactly what she told me. I went to the trash can and spit it out. She gave me two licks; gave me two licks with a paddle right in front of class. Didn’t take me outside; just busted me. I immediately went back to my desk, and I pulled out a candy bar and started eatin’ it. And when she called on me I shoved the whole thing in my mouth. And she grabbed me by the head of the hair and this is God’s honest truth. I mean she grabbed me by the head of the hair, pulled me up to the waste basket, ducked my head over it: “Spit it out, spit it out, spit it out!” And you know that’s tough for the chocolate lover that I am. And you know I am trying to swallow and spit at the same time. At least I was going to get half of it down. And you know she went totally crazy. I mean just over a candy bar in class. I wasn’t making any noise with it. The thought of me eating that in her classroom; and the defiance, and after I got it out of my mouth she says: “Didn’t I tell you?” And I replied to her: “I will never forget this.”, and this got me five licks. “Well Mrs. Bishop, you told me to spit my gum out. You did not say anything about candy.” And oh, she was fierce! She made an example out of me; I got five good licks out of that. But it wasn’t nothing then; the day after Halloween I wasn’t the only one; there were other kids to get a paddling (laugh) for the class I had, and that was in junior high. So I mean we had seven classes. Then so you’re looking at seven paddles, which you know with Mrs. Bishop I got with that one, but you know they didn’t even like us eating it in the hall. You know at lunchtime or whatever. I mean every authority on you, and you know God help you if you broke those rules. And I think that is one reason that made me defiant, what made my generation so defiant; they was so strike on us to a point. And you know, a lot of the lies we heard about the Cold War; we could get under a desk and that would protect us from an atomic bomb. All the other stuff we were having to deal with, it made us defiant generation. So you know, you had to test ‘em.
At Halloween time, we bobbed for apples and chewed all of these dry crackers to try to winsee who could eat the most crackers, and put these water in the tub and our head down there and bite these apples. If you’d bite them apples, you won a candy bar or sucker or something like that, and uh, we played um, ring around the roses, and we’d get together and just go around and around
I remember one time we lived down Narrows on Halloween night we went to Marvin Crab tree place and took and hooked his trailer to the car and pulled it over across the river to his girl friend’s house and parked it in the yard. He came home from work the next morning and didn’t know where his trailer was. He was all shuck up.
We was mean on Halloween down here. We’ve done everything down here. Used to make darts out of match sticks, these wooden matches and slit the ends, stick a straight pin up in there and cut the head off of it. Make about twenty five or thirty of them. There was about five of us, Jamie Moses, Mike Taylor, me, a Rice boy, and a Jones. We get down there Halloween and Nannie Rose used to be sort of the head person over the Halloween thing. It was in the old building where there used to be a gymnasium in there. She’d have balloons floating all over the place, and we’d be standing there throwing them darts up in the air, popping them balloons. We would block the road, cut trees down across it. We done everything. You name it, it was done. Wrecked one school room down there one time in that old white building that used to be there. I don’t know whether you guys remember…
On Halloween we were always out into meanness, not doing nothing what you’d say really bad, but pulling pranks on people, soaping up their windows or something like that. As far as tearing up, no we didn’t tear up nothing of nobody’s or nothing like that. There was some pranks that I heard about, but I wouldn’t want to talk about-not broadcast anyway. But just…I remember one time that we got a…they called it the Berry Ridge . We took a white sack and we cut a tree…a small tree, and stuffed it down in that white sack, and when a car came by we threw it down over the cliff. And the car almost wrecked, which scared me, and I thought what could’ve happened, so we didn’t do that no more. But that was one of the…I guess the worst thing I done…but it really bothered me after the car almost wrecked, and I didn’t want to do that no more.
On Halloween there was a few mean pranks pulled. One i recall was about a feller right out just above the road was a getting his winter's wood and he had a sawhorse, to lay stuff up in it you know and saw it, and he had his wood worked up and uh his sawhorse was still yet there. And me and another feller came along and there was an old walnut tree stood there right at where he was getting his wood. He handed me the sawhorse and I drug it through the limbs and hung it up there. And that was in the fall of the year when they was getting their wood up for winter. Next spring why they hired me to help him put out a crop to plow for corn. And that field that the walnut tree was at uh there was 15 acres in it and he was going to plow it. So we went out there and raked up all the old chips bark and stuff up there where he cut the wood. We took out plows up there and got started to plowing one evening he said "might as well get my sawhorse and take it to the house." He pulled around there under the walnut tree he said would you go up there and get it down. I never let on I went up the walnut tree and got the sawhorse brought it down and put it in the wagon we took it on to the house. So I took it up and took it down too.
On Halloween one year cows went into the school house, and wagon put on top, we had another one. Did you know John Honaker, old John was a good fellow but he just wasn’t all there. This man, at that time this road was an open field, there were no houses here. So they raised corn and cut it in stalks and they chucked it later and took it to the cattle. This man went to church right up here for years. This fellow decides he would scare him as he was going home, so he gets a white sheet and behind the parlor shop and John comes out, and this fellow steps out and says I am the Devil! John said the hell you are and just kept walking...
On Halloween we would sometimes get quite rowdy... we would put things in the road sometimes and we’d have Halloween party and we would go trick or treating from house to house,but basically some of the church groups would have parties for us. We had some pranks, we would put sheets on some of our… some of the… some of our relatives would wear sheets and jump out of the woods with a sheet on and… one time, this was one time we really pulled a terrible prank. We put a lot of things in the road and my uncle… he was a fast driver… he would… he ran so fast up and down this road… in fact he was a fast driver and we put things in the road and he hit them and I think that kind of slowed him down afterwards.
On Halloween Calvin and Janet would come to our house one time and momma said you know, we seen them coming up to the house and we had no idea who they was, and Eden was working away from home. So they came in, and they stayed and I thought well wonder if they are not going to leave, and they just kept talking but they, you know, we didn’t know who it was and they finally taken them off and laughed at us. And we always had somebody for Easter. I mean for that, yeah.
372-Phyllis Willis Ruble
We always had a lot of fun on Halloween, but they had to be grown people go with us all the time. We went to Rocky Gap one time and turned over an outhouse, and the man was in it. We were going to see if anybody mopped it that year, and they did. Course they never did find our for sure who did it.There was a lot of people that did mean things. Trees cut down across the roads a lot. People’s mail boxes were tore down and hauled down the road. It was really meaner then than it is now sometimes, but I wasn’t really involved in any.
We put the cow in the old auditorium on Halloween. They had the fodder, you know in there, and big tubs of water, and they had this little Halloween carnival. And when they closed the... when the carnival was over... some of us slipped out and got a hold of an old cow... and and got her in that auditorium and fastened the door. We jammed the door, you know... that we could get it back open. Then, when we got the door open, we let the cow in and locked it back up and left.
099-Rufus and Linda
On Halloween, a lot of times we got pretty rough. We didn't do any big damage. We'd lift people's gates off the hinges, and leave them off, leave gates open. Sometimes we'd get into their chickens and make 'em squall, and then when they'd come out we'd throw rocks at 'em and run 'em back in the house. I remember one time we got in Buddy Harmon's chickens, he was an old man. We carried them off and made them squall and he wouldn't come out. Somebody before that had threw rocks and run him back in when he'd come out, so he's afraid the same thing was going to come. After we got the chickens out and he wouldn't come out, well I'd taken to the door and knocked on it and hollered at him. He answered and wanted to know what I wanted. I told him some old mean boys had got in his chickens and carried them out there and threw them down, and I brought 'em back home to him and there they was. He said just put 'em down in the old chicken house. That's where we'd got 'em at and I took 'em back and put them in there and told him some old mean boys had took them.
There was a lot of tricking where we were growing up during Halloween night; setting fodder shocks on fire or you’d hear about that, or you might hear about someone’s Johnny house getting turned over, but my dad would never let us go out on Halloween night. We were never permitted because, he always said, “I want to know where you are.” So we were always home on Halloween. Usually, we would just stay home and distribute candy to trick-or-treaters.
520-Wanda Reynolds and Ida Burton
I do remember some things about Halloween. Not at... not down here in the country... but in town, I remember that groups of kids would go out... oh... they’d bring, maybe cow manure, and throw it in people’s yards... and I’ve heard about people turning outhouses over, but I didn’t ever witness that. I don’t know whether that happened or not... But I have heard about that. But there were some things that were done up in Bland, that just weren’t very nice. You know, I don’t know about other... It seems like they did other things. Oh. I know... they soaped car windows. You’d take a cake of soap and soap the car windows...