One of the great things about this job is that I get to share my thoughts with all of you every week. I admit that some weeks it is tough to come up with a topic. During other weeks, I could comment on half a dozen topics I think would of great interest to the Peabody community. I have lived here a long time and there are things I know — simple as that. No one ever thought I would be pounding out an opinion column every week, right? Shoot, I never thought I would be pounding out an opinion column every week.
However, now that I am, I am often tempted to share some of that secret stuff with you. There is a side of me that would love to “rat out” some of my favorite offenders. Scary, huh? I probably will never do that, but there are tales of the past I can share. Some involve the history of Halloween and what better time to share that with you?
We have had a few Halloween celebrations that have left us shaking at how close we have come to nearly violent confrontations between kids and law enforcement or property owners.
Our first year here, we lived in a rental on Olive St. that no longer exists. The Mister heard stories at school of what happened to faculty members on Halloween and at dusk that night he set up trip wires and such in our back yard. He positioned himself in a tree with a shotgun — planning only to fire into the air and scare away any marauding delinquents. He had a friend in the country hide our car and we hunkered down for the night. No lights on, no treats for the kiddos, no grinning pumpkins, no nothing. Guess what? Nothing happened — at least not to us.
On the morning after that first Halloween, I found out what kind of mess bushels of hedge apples make when lobbed around on city streets. Fire sirens had gone off several times during the night and small charred bales were left up and down Walnut St. and on school lawns. There was an honest-to-goodness outhouse tossed onto its side in the downtown business district. Toilet paper streamers were everywhere and there were stories of homes bombarded by rotten eggs. Welcome to Peabody!
The business of Halloween destruction vs. good clean trick-or-treat fun has waffled back and forth over time. When the Halloween curfew was started back in the mid-to-late 1980s, our community made the Wichita news circuit for cracking down on kids younger than 21 being out past an 8 p.m. curfew. The Wichita Eagle sent a cub reporter up here to see what would happen when the curfew hour arrived and police moved out to enforce the deadline. As it turned out, the Eagle’s cub reporter himself was not yet 21 and his was the first arrest made that night. He was stuck at city hall, where the police department was at that time. In the early morning hours, an officer followed him to the city limits and sent him back to Wichita to file his story. Guess we showed him, huh?
Lately, things have swung back to being rather tame. Perhaps because of the curfew being enforced year after year or perhaps we just have a better group of kids growing up here now. Never-the-less, it is a better holiday for younger kids who still get excited about it. I hope they all have a wonderful time Saturday night. I cannot help but wonder if the cub reporter still tells his story about getting stuck in small town America on Halloween night. We all have stories to tell.