On this chilly, rainy Halloween, I’m reminded of how we celebrated the day back when I was a kid. First, here is what we did not do. There was no such thing as “Trick or Treat.” Nobody walked from house-to-house dressed up like a zombie, or a ghost or some other “scary” creature like a presidential candidate. The problem was that the farms were too far apart. Our nearest neighbors were a half-mile away.
What we did do was celebrate Halloween at our country school. Regular school activities were suspended that afternoon. The teacher arranged to have a big wash tub filled with water in the school’s entryway into which she dumped a bunch of ripe red apples. We all bobbed for apples, meaning we tried to grab hold of one with our teeth, no hands allowed. What happened was that we got a very wet head as we pushed the apple to the bottom of the tub in order to bite into it.
Then, blindfolded, one of the mothers—they were invited to the party—led us one at a time into the schoolroom and to the teacher’s desk where we were to identify scary objects: a ghost’s eyeballs (grapes), a witch’s brains (spaghetti), or a witch’s brew (vinegar). We didn’t tell those who followed what we had experienced.
I don’t recall that we made jack-o-lanterns—we all grew pumpkins in our farm gardens, but they were not wasted on a silly jack-o-lantern.
Some of the young men in the community saw Halloween as a time for mischief—tipping over outhouses was high on the list, and they were not difficult to find. Every farm had one and the school and the churches generally had two---one for the boys and one for the girls.
I remember one of the more creative pieces of mischief. Our closest neighbor to the north, Allen Davis, upon entering his barn to milk his cows the day after Halloween discovered that several of his cows were wearing horse harnesses.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Halloween, like so many things, is not like it once was.
November 5, 7:00 p.m. Baraboo Library, Whispers and Shadows.
November 7, Edgerton Book Festival, The Land (TV documentary) and Whispers and Shadows
November 10, 6:00 p.m. Wausau Public Library, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
November 12, 7:00 p.m. Bellville High School Auditorium (with Bellville Public Library). Wisconsin Agriculture: A History
November 14, 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
November 15, 9:15 Midvale Lutheran Church, The Land (TV documentary) plus discussion of Whispers and Shadows.
November 17, 7:00 p.m. Hotel Red (1501 Monroe Street- corner of Regent and Monroe, Madison.) “Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, a discussion with Doug Moe. Sponsored by Mystery to me Bookstore. Book signing to follow.
November 18, Preview of TV Documentary, “The Land With Jerry Apps” Wild Rose High School Auditorium. Whispers and Shadows book signing. (Time to be announced)
Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street