Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No More Tricks for Halloween!

This was the goal of the Marshal of Kalamazoo, L.M. Gates, when he posted a notice in the Kalamazoo Telegraph on Oct. 29, 1888. In years past, numerous local youths had been “disarranging property” on Halloween night. [1] In a few of the preceding years “hundreds of young men and even some young women had joined the ranks doing great damage by actually destroying things.” [1] Gates called upon all citizens to be vigilant, even offering $20 to the first person to provide evidence to convict one of these hooligans. [1]

In 1882, serious injury from a Halloween “prank” was narrowly averted. Mr. Wm. Nye stepped out of his hack onto the horse block. It precipitately gave way throwing him underneath the hack and resulting in a few minor injuries as well as a sprained ankle. Had Mr. Nye stepped directly to the ground the lady he went to fetch, along with her baby, would undoubtedly have been hurt as soon as she stepped onto the horse block. An investigation determined that the supports had been sawed off, leaving the block apparently sound, but unable to support a person's weight. [2] It may have been a prank, but it certainly wasn't harmless.

Perhaps Marshall Gates' warning paid off because All Hallows' Eve 1888 was apparently quieter than in years past. [3] The Telegraph summed up the night saying “Halloween sports were extensively carried on although no damage was done to property.” There was still some minor mischief: “at the college, an ice-wagon was ejected into the lower building by peacemeal [sic]” and one man's wagons and carriages were drawn several blocks away from his house. [3] The high school also received a nocturnal visit. Prof. Richards entered his school room to discover tables topsy-turvy and books and ink bottles “piled unceremoniously” throughout the room. [3] “Ink was made to affiliate with mucilage” and the human skeleton used in physiology class dangled from the chandelier. [3] “The boys evidently had a good time.” [3]

One “prank” seemed more serious to me, but apparently not to the Telegraph staff. They described how the boys set the “college woods” ablaze. [3] The Telegraph blandly stated that “the west end was beautifully illuminated.” [3] Although attempts were made to chase those responsible, no one was apprehended. [3]

Although nothing serious occurred in Kalamazoo, South Haven was not so lucky. There, hoodlums ripped up sidewalks, “misplaced numerous articles of personal property” and also burned a small, unoccupied building. [3] It's no wonder that someone came up with the idea to give away candy on Halloween. If threats don't work entice the tricksters to a tamer pastime with sugar.

  1. Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 10-29-1888, P7, col4
  2. Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 11-2-1882, P3, col2
  3. Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 11-1-1888, P7, col3

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