Friday, October 31, 2014

Hallowe'en Pranks in San Diego in 1906

I wondered if the local newspaper, The San Diego Union, published anything about Hallowe'en activities about 100 years ago.  fortunately, GenealogyBank has the full run of that newspaper since 1868, so I searched with keywords of [hallowe'en trick] and got 59 matches.

I picked one from 1966 headlined "Hallowe'en Proves Quiet" published on 1 November 1906:

The full article reads:


Good Natured Pranks Rule Throughout this City

Many Social Functions Are Given in Old Time Style

Mischievous youths held high carnival last night all over San Diego and Prankdom reigned supreme.  Mostly the fun was good natured and evoked only smiles from perpetrator and victim, but here and there a pompous gentleman whose top hat had been ruthlessly removed by an invisible string, an immaculate youth who stepped into a carefully prepared mud puddle, or a tired business man who trod on the business end of a hoop, stopped long enough to shake a fist and voice a few un-Christian remarks in the direction of the derisive laugh which came apparently from nowhere.

In a good many quarters of the city, wagon wheels were taken off and suspended with gates, ravaged from the fronts of houses, upon dizzy heights of telegraph-pole eminence.  Changing house and room numbers was a favorite diversion; bicycle racks, barber poles and bulletin boards took unto themselves feet and walked away.

A trick which the small boys played with great success was unscrewing the front on electric bell push buttons, inserting a piece of putty beneath them and screwing the front on again with the result that some bells are still ringing, unless the batteries have become exhausted.  Tick-tacks were rather out of fashion last night, and even the strident horse-fiddle seemed to have outlived its day.  The evening, in the downtown district partook more of the character of a carnival, fancy costumes being in evidence everywhere, especially at Unity hall, where a very successful masquerade ball was given by the Ladies Concert band.  No arrests were reported up to a late hour by the police, and the night is recorded as one of the jolliest and most harmless of Hallowe'en celebrations ever known here.

Hallowe'en Party

 Edith Hoff entertained entertained a score of her young friends at her home at The Keystone last evening, where the sun-parlor was converted into a resort such as witches and other uncanny folk are wont to inhabit.  All lights except those from grinning masks, and from the fire which kept contents of the cauldron at a scathing heat were dispensed with.

Early in the evening the young hostess and her guests, chaperoned by Mesdames Hoff and Owen and Miss Ruby Williams, made a Hallowe'en call on friends in the neighborhoods.

On their return various games were played, among them ducking for apples, Winkum, farmyard and other pastimes traditionally connected with the occasion.

Refreshments followed and they were enjoyed in the big dining room, prettily decorated with red and yellow autumn flowers.


The kids were sure creative, weren't they?  If someone tried any of those tricks this year, they'd probably be arrested.

I wondered what "Winkum" was - I found a description at

My grandfather, Lyle L. Carringer, was age 15 in 1906 - I wonder if he participated in the pranks that were mentioned, or attended Edith's party.  I wonder if my great-grandparents had tricks played on them at their house on the corner of 30th Street and Hawthorn Street.

Have I mentioned recently that I love GenealogyBank? Especially since they added the San Diego newspapers several years ago!!

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

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