The Richmond Register

October 28, 2013

Halloween ‛tricks’ have become less common, thank goodness

Event began as an ancient Irish festival

Carol Prewitt

NEWBY — It’s almost Halloween, a time of frights and treats for children.

It began over 2,000 years ago as an ancient pagan festival in Ireland.

Sanhain (pronounced sow-ann in Gaelic) marked the division of the year between the lighter half, summer, and the darker half, winter. It was believed the division between this world and the “other” world was at it’s thinnest at the end of October and the start of November.

That occurrence allowed spirits to pass from their realm to ours.

Families believed their loved ones could come home for a visit then, and an extra place was set at the table. To ward off any bad spirits that might try to get through, they would put on costumes and wear masks to fool them.

When the Irish began to migrate to America, their beliefs came with them and were added to our tradition of celebrating the harvest and the carving of pumpkins. Together, it has become the second largest holiday, close behind Christmas.

I have heard the local stories of tricks that were carried out in the past.

Often, trees were cut down so they would fall across roads. The real trick was when the culprits would cover the trees with manure or some other awful substance, then wait for an unsuspecting vehicle to come along. Of course, the driver would get to pull the tree out of the way and too late realize what they had grabbed.

Once, honey and bees were dumped on some lumber in the road. That driver got a good stinging out of that.

Another time, a tree was cut and as it was falling it hit the power lines. Newby was in the dark for several hours. No one claims responsibility for that one, but I bet I can narrow it down pretty close!

Buck Prewitt remembers when some boys took apart a wagon, climbed to the top of a barn and put it back together. The next morning, Claude Morris came out and had a hard time figuring out how it got there.

A mowing machine and wagon were once set in the road and covered with fodder shocks. A man was heading home after having a few too many to drink, hit them, went through a fence, down a hill, spun around and came back, making another hole in the fence.

When he came to a stop, he was heard to say, “Don’t worry about the mule being blind, just sit up and hold the lines.”

And there was always the mysterious bag left on someone’s front porch.

This time, Clarence Bogie was the victim. The bag of manure was set on the porch and lit on fire. The tricksters knocked hard on the door and when Clarence came out in his night robe, he began stomping the fire out, covering himself in … well, you know.

Not much of that sort of thing goes on today, thank goodness!

I hope your little ones have a lot of safe fun and get gobs of candy to share with Mom and Dad.

See you next week.

If you have a story to tell, call me at 625-0355 or send it to me at