To say that times haven't changed a bit is somewhat short of reality. Afterall technology has advanced and new products and methods have cast a lot of good, fun things into the trash bin only to be remembered by those who were actually there. Halloween over the years, while still celebrated on October 31, doesn't have quite the pranks pulled that used to be commonplace. But that doesn't mean that pranks pulled nowadays are no longer noteworthy; it just means that some of them have advanced with the times.
Back in the days when our parents were teenagers, the neighbor's family outhouse was always a target for Halloween. The most common prank with that was to pick the outhouse up and set it on the ground just behind the hole. The pranksters would conceal themselves and wait for some unsuspecting person to scurry down the path and--. Well, before the victim could say it, he or she would be up to his/her knees in it. But then there was always the owner who would become wise to those unpleasant tricks and, armed with a shotgun full of rock salt, take up vigil inside the outhouse itself. Trouble with that was the pranksters would simply tip the outhouse over on its door leaving the owner to crawl out through one of the 'seats' and attempt to step over the pit in the process.
My mother laughingly recalled her neighbor, the victim, poking his head through one of the holes of his overturned privy. 'I can see you--I can see you! I'm gonna shoot!
Then there's the story where half a dozen ambitious types would work half the night to dismantle a wagon and reassemble it on top of the roof of the barn. There was a cartoon to that effect in a magazine a few years ago where a man stepped outside his house the morning after Halloween, looked around and declared: 'Halloween sure isn't what it used to be.' He hasn't seen it yet, but his car is perched on top of his roof.
Today's pranks can still rival those of yesterday. Some are downright ingenious in their planning and implementing and they can still bring about some good laughs despite all the effort in their execution. The following is one of those that, while the planning and execution was super quick, the result was one of the best.
Skinny, as his family and the community knew him, lived about eight miles east of town. Having his farmstead located only a stone's throw from the main road made his place a prime target every Halloween. But save for turning chickens loose in his car one time, the majority of the pranks were harmless and not much planning went into them. Skinny was also a good sport and not so old that he didn't remember some of the tricks he once pulled. But on the same token, he was justifiably concerned about what could happen as he had heard tales of some out and out vandalism that some some demented souls had rationalized to be tricks that had been inflicted elsewhere in the region.
Just don't let it get out of hand. Good advice, he thought as the day progressed.
He was taking advantage of the unseasonably mild weather to get some chores done. One of these was to finish hauling bales of straw in from the field and stack them in the yard. Back then the bales were the tradional size (less than 100 pounds) compared to the monster sized ones that are often seen today and could be handled easily by hand. Of course they were also easy for pranksters to carry around and be used to construct barricades and other obstacles to deal with the next morning. That could add up to a lot of extra work so that was the primary reason Skinny went to such effort to get the bales off the field and stacked at home so he could keep a better eye on them. The stack was completed by nightfall and after the rest of the chores were done and supper over with, Skinny and his wife settled in and braced themselves for the annual onslaught of Hallowe's Eve.
Strangely enough it turned out to be a very uneventful night. Nothing was stirring. Skinny's kids had gone into town to see what mischief they could get into there and some friends also stopped in for a visit but left an hour or so later to keep up vigil at their own place. Around midnight the kids came home and went to bed, afterwhich Skinny's wife followed suit.
Still nothing. Skinny went outside a couple of times and took a stroll around the farmyard. He was rather surprised not to find a thing out of place. He even felt a twinge of disappointment that his place was not the target of choice for the region's nocturnal activities. Convinced that his farmstead was no longer at the top of the list, he too went inside and turned in for the night.
The following morning Skinny got up and went down to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. His wife was on the phone with one of the neighbors and from the snippets of conversation he overheard, he determined that the neighbors were the victims this year. From the sound of things, every piece of equipment the neighbor owned was now parked across his driveway. Of course the neighborly thing to do was to drive over and help put everything back into its proper place. Without a further word, Skinny reached for his jacket and headed outside to his pickup--truck...
What the hell..? His pickup was gone! Those little bastards had struck after all. And managed to do it right under his nose. He rushed back inside where his wife was concluding her phone conversation.
'My pickup's gone!'
'Your pickup's gone? What happened to it?'
'How the hell should I know? Those damned kids stole my pickup!'
'I'm sure they didn't steal it,' his wife tried to reassure him, 'they probably towed it across the yard and hid it in the wind break like they did with the tractor two years ago...'
Skinny hoped she was right. He bounded out the door and searched his place from one end to the other only to find his efforts in vain. His next to new pickup was gone--missing, stolen. Highly agitated by now he stormed back inside. 'It's gone! he said again as he reached for the phone.
'And you think it's been stolen,' his wife said then asked: 'Where did you leave it?'
'Well, I unloaded the bales off the wagon then parked the wagon over beside the baler where I always keep it--it's still there, I checked. I took the tractor over to the shop and parked it inside and I took the truck over to the seed cleaning plant to make sure everything was locked up and I drove back and left the truck right beside the straw--.'
He went back outside and looked at where he'd last seen his truck. It was right beside the stack--wait a minute. That stack doesn't look the same, he thought. I could've sworn that I'd made that stack a lot further from the driveway...
He sprinted for the straw stack and began tossing bales aside. As he began to pull down one end of the stack, the bales suddenly tumbled down in a heap revealing a cavity with the two headlights of his prized pickup truck peering out into the morning light. The perps must have worked through the night to do what they did; they moved half the stack over top of the truck. And they were careful not to damage it in any way. They had carefully arranged the bales in such a way as to make sturdy walls for the enclosure then placed timbers and heavy planks across the top upon which they arranged a layer of bales up to approximately the same height the stack originally was. From the house one would never suspect. And Skinny sure didn't.
And they say that Halloween isn't what it used to be. Well, maybe not quite.