Museum Blog

Trick or Treat!

Halloween used to have more tricks than treats, with many mischief makers doing their best to cause some sort of mayhem. The actions perpetrated ran from mildly irritating to full out property damage. An article in the Cañon City Daily Record in November 1, 1932 reported on some of the events of the previous night. All the merchants on Main Street had to wash their windows that morning, after soap and paraffin had been placed on them, one of the more harmless pranks of Halloween evening. However, one unfortunate merchant had forgotten Halloween night and had spent his day industriously washing his windows…only to have to repeat the process the very next day on November 1. Regrettably, other pranks led to actual damage, estimated by the police to total $300 or more. A refreshment stand on East Main Street was pushed over, smashed, and the remains thrown in the large ditch parallel to Main Street. A barber’s pole was torn from its fastenings and broken. Windows at 1130 Greenwood Avenue were shattered, as were windshields on cars parked at Fourth and Greenwood and Fourth and Rudd Streets. Fences and gates were torn down and damaged, garbage cans pushed over, and small sheds ruined.

The police worked to discourage youths from mischief every year, but it was seen as especially important once the United States entered World War II. Damaged property was harder to repair or replace due to rationing. The newspaper appealed to youths to think of the war effort in an attempt to curb pranks and vandalism on Halloween night in 1942.

To the Fellows Who Like to Go Out On Halloween Night

Fellows, things are a little different this year than they ever have been on Halloween. Now we don’t want to bust up anyone’s fun, for we have had plenty of fun ourselves on Halloween in many years and know what it can mean.

Some of us in this office have contributed plenty to the inconvenience of people about town by our Halloween pranks in years past. But as one we feel that if we were still your age, we would not attempt to destroy any property this year.

For instance, if you cut someone’s clothesline this year chances are darn good that they won’t be able to get another one up until the war is over.

If you let air out of someone’s tire and they ruin the tire in starting up unaware that it is flat, you know darn well that man has lost his transportation until the end of the war. It might mean his job – it certainly means a whole lot of worry and inconvenience to him.

And there have been a lot of other doings that have been good-natured pranks in the past that are a lot different this year.

Of course, the cops have said they would prosecute the law of vandalism to its fullest. Let’s take that not as a challenge to try to get away with what we can without being caught, but by doing away with destruction and aiding in the war effort.

Winning this war is just as important to you as it is to your brother or friend at the front.

Cañon City Daily Record
October 30, 1942

Over the years, Halloween has transformed from mischievous youths demanding candy in return for not pranking someone, to costumed children (hopefully) politely asking for candy. While this year may be different, it will not be the first time the holiday has adapted with the times.  

Happy Halloween!

Group of children in costume, ca. 1953. Object ID: 1994.035.6840; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.   

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