The year Halloween took an explosive turn

One too many spooky tricks pushes a farm family over the edge, forcing them to take drastic nighttime action

Halloween brings back some humorous memories of Halloweens past when I was a kid, and some that were not so humorous.

We grew up on the farm where I still live, just a half mile south of our little community of Dapp, Alta. There were more people there then, plus a few businesses — all gone now — and also many of what were then the adults and old-timers of the day. And now, I am one of the old-timers or seniors, though my mind refuses to admit it. 

I only went out to town once or twice to “trick or treat,” and never gave the “trick” idea any real thought, other than the word.

Others had different ideas.

I remember one Halloween when two or three outhouses in the hamlet were tipped over and the school principal’s car was traded for an earlier, probably late 1920s car owned by an older gentleman in the hamlet. The following day was a school day, and the principal “instructed” the big boys at school (we were a grade one to 10 school at the time) to switch the two vehicles back to their proper place, and the same with the outhouses.

Out at our farm, one Halloween some of the older kids came in long after the trick or treat scene was over and tore apart a portion of our stack of square bales. Our Dad was pretty furious over that, and the next fall, he drove stakes in the ground at each end of the stack and stretched a wire between the two about six inches above the ground to “trip” any perpetrator with the same idea. I seem to recollect it did catch one or two that way.

But the one that created the most excitement was when I was maybe 10 or 12 years old. It was already past midnight, and our dad was just finishing up his bath when he heard a voice outside saying, “nice doggy, be quiet doggy,” and other little pacifying thoughts to keep our dog from announcing his arrival. 

The young fellow was at the yard pole and pulled the switch, throwing the house into total darkness. There was a bit of moonlight, so it wasn’t pitch black. We three boys — my two older brothers and I — were asleep at the time when the lights went out.

Dad yelled to my oldest brother, who was almost six years older than I — “Get the shotgun.”

My brother complied, grabbed the big old single-shot Continental Arms 12-gauge shotgun and ran outside in his bare feet, shotgun loaded, raised it to the sky and fired. My other brother and I were watching all this commotion from our upstairs bedroom window. That old gun threw a flame probably three feet past the barrel when he fired it in the dark. 

We could hear hollering and yelling as a couple of guys sprinted down our driveway to the rural road, where a carload of teens, about the same age as my older brothers, were waiting to go “into action” and probably pull some mischief.

After a second round from the old 12-gauge, we saw and heard the car take off.

The next day at school, it was all the talk with the big boys. They claimed that they had never seen Eddie, the one who had pulled the power switch, run so fast, passing the other young fellow who was there with him. Eddie swore up and down that he was being fired at directly, with pellets all around him, but of course, with the gun in the air, the pellets never came anywhere near him — just the noise!

That was basically the end of the Halloween pranks in the community, it seemed, which was good. Nobody got hurt. 

My Dad was not a malicious man, but he really didn’t appreciate the destruction those young fellows pulled under the guise of Halloween. In reality, I think that little incident basically stopped those kinds of actions, and after that, the boys grew up.

That was more than 60 years ago, and I am sure if that sort of thing happened today, my dad and brother would be in big trouble for discharging a firearm like that. Fortunately, nothing more ever came of it, and for the most part, Halloween, at least in our part of the world, is quite tame, with just a few kids out and about to collect a few treats.

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