Halloween has come and gone — my favorite holiday by far! Yesterday I sat at the PA Room’s desk, dressed in full pirate regalia and eager to scare any kids who wandered too far from the confines of the Children’s Library. (Actually, I had candy for them. But they still seemed to be afraid of me.)
It was a quiet day, so I delved into the microfilm to learn about how Halloween was celebrated by locals in the past. The following article appeared in the Daily News Standard on October 31, 1898 and described a particularly disruptive Mischief Night.
Tick-tack, insofar as I can tell, might refer to the clatter of loose corn hitting glass or the use of an actual “tick-tack” — often, a spool with a nail stuck through it — that rattles a window when it’s spun. I love that batten-down-the-hatches advice in the last line.
The same edition of the newspaper printed a short article warning other ne’er-do-wells to stay in on All Hallow’s Eve. In Uniontown, police would be on hand to arrest anyone “indulging in the sport of hallowe’en.” After all, they had been “permitted to tick-tack with the hopes that they would do it in a respectful and manly way” . . . which begs the question, how do you cause mischief in a respectful and manly way?
Notice that the revelers still kept the Sabbath, however.
In this small glimpse, it looks like Halloween wasn’t particularly well-received near the turn of the century. But just a few microfilm reels later, I came across articles that painted the holiday in a significantly more positive light. Here’s a snippet from a lengthy piece printed in the Morning Herald on October 30, 1909:
The article went on to describe the previous evening’s events, which included a party for the Uniontown Hospital nurses, a few church socials, and a number of private soirees. But check out that change in tone!
[T]he man, woman or child who escaped the infectious spirit of the time is certainly insensible to the holiday magnetism which pervades the air and makes the whole world kin on such occasions.
Now that’s more like it. A few days later, the Herald recounted a pleasant and festive Halloween:
Here are my favorite observations from the Herald article:
A prominent young man from New Salem came to the county seat with his auto last evening and as he was leisurely running down Main street in the vicinity of the Bank building about 75 boys just piled in and made themselves at home. The owner took the occurrence good naturedly and permitted them to stay until they got ready to get out.
A well known character in the west end of town got in a buggy and was hauled over the town by a crowd of small boys. On returning to his place of business he turned the hose on the lads. A pedestrian passing caught the full force of the stream in his face.
Quite a few revelers opted to dress as the opposite sex, which “offended the modesty” of the more prim and proper citizens. The main streets of Uniontown were crowded until late in the evening. Yet, no arrests were made for Halloween mischief!
. . . Well, apart from “two dozen regulars” who drank too much and “were gathered up from various parts of the city, some even necessitating the use of a wheelbarrow to get them to the station house.” Hopefully not too many Fayette County folks needed to be hauled home in a wheelbarrow last night!