A slice of life from author J.R. Hardin:
The time was October in the late 1920s. Dad, my Uncle Gene, and a couple of friends were getting ready for their greatest Halloween prank. My Dad had just become a teenager and Uncle Gene was only seven. But Dad was just as excited as Gene about the ghost they had made: an old white sheet with a head made from leaves and grass stuffed in the sheet, tied with a piece of cord. A scary face was painted on the head. Its arms were sticks with three skinny twigs on the end that looked like boney fingers. It had taken them awhile to find the right limbs for the arms, and they had painted those white. The limbs were tied together inside the sheet.
It was ten days before Halloween so there was plenty of time to test out the ghost. Dad tied a thin, black cord to the back of the ghost. The ghost was placed in a shallow hole and covered with leaves. Next the cord was thrown over a nearby tree limb, then taken across the street and thrown over another tree limb in my grandparent’s backyard. Dad held the cord and hid behind the hedge.
This didn’t go unobserved. The neighbors on both sides of the street sat on their porches and waited for the action to start. There wasn’t television to watch in those days.
As the day turned to night the black cord became invisible. Before long a couple of girls came strolling down the sidewalk. One of the friends signaled to Dad when to yank on the cord. The ghost popped up with a shower of leaves and the girls screamed. Dad, Gene, the friends, and neighbors all laughed. This went on for a couple of hours until Dad scared a woman that turned out to be his mother. She marched him and Gene into the house and the fun was over.
The day before Halloween a neighbor talked Dad into doing it again for Halloween. The scaring went well the first two times. The third victim was a drunk staggering down the sidewalk with his coat pulled up and his hat pulled down so the neighbors couldn’t see his face. The people on the porches still fussed at him as he weaved his way down the sidewalk, getting ever closer to the hidden ghost.
All of a sudden, the ghost popped up! The man screamed, clutched his chest and collapsed on the sidewalk. Neighbors hurried from their porches and rushed to the man. Dad, Uncle Gene, and the two friends ran down the street and hid in a big field. One of the friends and Gene were crying. Dad decided to sneak back and see if the man was alive or dead. As he neared his house, he saw the neighbors standing in the street talking and laughing. This didn’t seem right to him. A neighbor tried to tell him the man was taken away in an ambulance. But Dad knew the tables had been turned, and the neighbors had played a prank on the pranksters.