Ghosts of Halloweens' Past

Halloween night is now a tame affair when compared to the Halloweens of past years. Years ago, it was a night looked forward to by both young and old. You never knew what to expect the morning after Halloween be­cause someone always came up with a new prank which was previously untried. Sometimes it bordered on vandalism, however in most cases the damage done was only minimal.

A trick at the head of every­one's list was to tip someone's outhouse. During the 1930s and 1940s there was no indoor plumbing in Elk Point - every household had an outhouse lo­cated somewhere on their lot.  It didn't matter how well these outhouses were an­chored to the ground, they all suffered the same fate.

During early years, Elk Point was not policed like it is today. Those celebrating Hal­Ioween night usually had all the time in the world to do whatever they had in mind, and without interruption. I recall one Halloween night during the 1930s when a group of grown-up boys dis­mantled and then re­assembled a farm wagon on the peak of C.J. Markstad's store. It was really something to see the next morning. It was an undertaking that no doubt took most of the night and required a great deal of manpower as well.

Another Halloween inci­dent I recall during the 1930s involved a number of boys who were canvassing the stores for treats. The mer­chant of one of the stores re­fused to give the boys any treats, he even chased them out of his store. This didn't go down well with these boys and they decided to get even with this merchant. After considerable planning, one of the boys climbed up on the flat roof of the store with a pail of ice cold water while the others re-entered the store.They soon infuriated the merchant and at that were chased out. This time the ang­ered merchant followed them out the door and the next thing he knew he had a pail of cold water dumped on his head.

Another Halloween inci­dent I recall happened during the 1960s. It involved a num­ber of teenaged boys and girls who wanted to do something different. They first divided into two groups. The first group deposited four or five chickens into the post office through the parcel chute. Prior to this the other group had turned loose two cats and a small dog through the same chute. In no time the interior of the post office resembled a merry-go-round. The dog chased the two cats and the resulting action excited and disturbed the chickens. They were left alone for well over two hours. Someone passing the post office after midnight heard the racket and notified the postmaster, who quickly made a trip to the post office to investigate the incident. He found the interior of the post office in a mess - the chickens had "fowled" up the mail see­tion in their own little way by -postmarking much of the mail with chicken droppings. The postmaster almost had a fit and you really couldn't blame him. The following morning our local town constable ­Harry Keck, was called in to investigate the damage done and in no time had a number of scared teenagers rounded up. This incident wasn't taken lightly by the post offfice offi­cials who were quickly noti­fied. Tampering with His Majesty's Royal Mail was il­legal and it was considered a criminal offence. However, after a lengthy investigation, everything turned out well for the teenagers involved; they were strictly warned, gi­ven a good scare and par­doned. The distribution of the mail however was delayed somewhat as it had to be re­turned to Edmonton for dry cleaning before it could be distributed to the public.

Usually on Halloween, a child's bicycle or wagon­s seemed to disappear, never to be seen again. To some it seemed like a good night to acquire a bit of someone else's property without being caught.

The morning after Hal­loween was always considered to be cleanup day. It was a time to put the old outhouse in place again and a time when all soaped windows as well as other minor damage had to be attended to.