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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Halloween Mischief

Halloween Mischief

GRHC - October 26th, 2011

Boys will be boys!



October 31st has a long history of mischief-making. In 1895, it was not so bad in downtown Grand Rapids where abundant police protection made Halloween fun hazardous, but in the residential districts, deviltry held high carnival until all impish perpetrators were sleepy enough to prefer their beds. In general, the fun was of a rather harmless character and took the shape of stealing gates, overturning woodpiles, scaring motormen with straw corpses lying prone on the streetcar tracks, and other such profanity-inspiring mischief.

West side boys would throw a handful of beans at a windowpane. Simultaneously another would break a glass bottle. The combination never failed to bring the family to the door with the hopes of catching the miscreants who had supposedly smashed their windows.

By 1920, boys irritated motormen operating streetcars on the Butterworth line by pulling down the trolley pole and fleeing before the motorman could get out of the car.

 A self-serving parent in the high-priced hill district remarked, “I tell my sons that if anything happens in the neighborhood, no matter the culprit, they will have to repair the damage. My boys are careful to lead the gang as far away from home as possible. Even our garbage cans are safe.”

Another more thoughtful parent commented, “There is always the consoling thought that the care-free boys who dump the garbage from cans on Halloween will inevitably grow up and have to carry it out in later years.”




Full Details

TitleHalloween Mischief
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, radio, Podcast, Halloween, mischief
Pubdate StringOctober 26th, 2011

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