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Halloween, 1883

Nebraska's newspapers reveal frequent news and occasional comment on Halloween observances, legal and otherwise. The editorial column "Topics of the Times," in the Nebraska State Journal of November 1, 1883, noted:

"Yesterday morning the Journal warned its readers of the near approach of Hallowe'en, the world wide holiday of the vicious small boy and advised parents to keep their mirth loving sons in doors in order to avoid the possibility of getting themselves into trouble. We . . . felt that, as a representative family paper, we would be derelict in our duty if the matter was not mentioned. As the head of the family leaves his house this morning for his daily toil about the first thing that meets his eye will be the side-splitting farce of his front gate perched upon his neighbor's coal shed. A little further down street he will be convulsed with laughter by the sight of a few sticks of cord wood carefully piled across the sidewalk. On the next corner a huge organ box will be observed in the middle of the street with the highly sensation [sic] sign, 'Cash for Hides,' nailed upon its side. Then it will be seen that somebody's coal shed, which stood on a rather shaky foundation, has succumbed to the pranks of the boys, and finally when the gentleman reaches his place of business the pentup mirth which has been accumulating all the way down streets will be unbounded by the discovery that the door handle is bedaubed with tar. By noon, the gate will be back upon the hinges, the cord wood carried to the wood house, the owner of the organ box will have paid a quarter to have it returned, the tar will have been cleaned from the door handle, the order of things generally restored, and the originality and smartness of young America will have been admitted by all."

An ingenious Halloween trick was perpetrated between Bennett and Cheney in Lancaster County in 1901. The Burlington freight was making good headway between the towns, when the engineer saw a man standing on the track. He whistled, but the man failed to move. The brakes were applied, but too late--the man was ground under the wheels. Upon investigating the accident, the conductor found that the "man" was simply a straw dummy placed on the track by mischievous boys.

(October 1999)



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