Failed Halloween Pranksters
Debra K. Dunlap
Johnny Horton sings, “When it’s springtime in Alaska, it’s 40 below.” I suppose that depends on how you define “springtime,” but no question about the temperature on Halloween when I was a kid. It was always 40 below or colder. I can hear the adults moaning, but believe me, temperature never stopped Alaskan kids from trick or treating.
Mothers bundled their children into snowsuits and ski masks, so costumes had to be large enough to wear over winter gear. Ghost and hobo costumes worked well. Of course, older children peeled off the extra layers as soon as they passed out of their mothers’ sight. It was a matter of pride to be Alaskan-tough.
How exciting to traipse through the snow in the dark, cold night collecting candy from warm homes with windows lit by glowing jack-o-lanterns! One year, my sister and I decided to up the pleasure and join the ranks of those who perpetrated Halloween pranks. We had grown up listening to stories of October 31st pranks played on my grandfather, who was a County Sheriff in Missouri. A group of kids tipped over his outhouse every year, but I was particularly fond of hearing about the year he happened to be IN the outhouse when they pushed it over.
There were no outhouses in our Fairbanks neighborhood, but we had a plan. My sister decided her obnoxious teacher had earned the privilege of a good “egging.” I distracted my mother with questions while my sister slipped into the kitchen to nab eggs from the refrigerator. She walked into the living room and gave me a significant, wide-eyed nod. We were off! Creeping silently through the ice fog, we hid behind frozen shrubbery each time we heard voices. Ah! That’s the house-the one with no lights, giving away no Halloween candy. It figures, we whispered to one another.
“Hurry up,” I hissed. “Someone will see us.” My sister grabbed my arm and I could tell something was wrong. “What? Did you forget the eggs?” The teacher’s porch light flickered, spotlighting us in the front yard. “Run for it!” Dragging each other and gasping for breath in the cold, we ran all the way home. “Wait, before-we-go-inside, tell-me what-happened.” Lungs aching from running so far in subzero temperatures, I had to pause to breathe between every word.
Wordlessly, my sister reached into her coat pockets, turning them inside out with difficulty. She had shoved three eggs into each pocket. Without wrapping or padding, the eggs had shattered in her pockets, first soaking through her coat and then freezing solid. A mistake--a mistake impossible to hide from a perceptive mother. Not only had we failed at our first and only attempt at a Halloween prank, but we were grounded for a very, very long time.
We never did “egg” a house; my mother counted her eggs every Halloween until we grew too old for trick-or treating.