This post is a day early, as Mischief Night – or Goosey Night as it is called in some places – the night before Halloween, is actually tomorrow. No matter. I hope it brings a smile to your faces if you think back on your own Mischief Night activities in days gone by.
Back when I was growing up, mild vandalism – as in throwing eggs at people or writing on windows with soap – was pretty much the standard in what to expect on Mischief Night. I rarely went out on the night before Halloween because I didn’t cotton to the idea of being pelted with eggs, nor did I want to throw eggs at anyone else, nor was I into the “fun” of soaping people’s windows. Soap was harmless enough, but when our house windows got soaped, it was my job to clean them off. Cleaning soap marks made by bars of soap was a lot of work because the windows would be left with soap streaks and I’d have to wash them all over again.
I decided I would be prepared – IN the house – when Mischief Night arrived in 1965 after my window cleaning chores in October 1964. We had moved to Wayne, New Jersey in December 1963. My mother even saved the house ad:
4 Winters Drive, October 1963
The house is a split level, common on the East Coast. There is a set of windows on the bottom left and, although they are hard to see, there is another set on the bottom right, to the right of the tree in the middle of the picture. The area directly behind the center tree is the front door, with panes of decorative glass on each side. As you can see, cleaning soap off the windows was no small job and it included tromping around in the bushes, too.
That center tree is also obscuring the view of the windows on the upper floor of the house on the right side. My bedroom window was up there. It was a terrific vantage point for my Mischief Night plan.
I kept both the screen and my window up on Mischief Night because I wanted to hear if anyone approached the house. I also kept a bucket full of balloons, each of which I had carefully filled with COLD water. The bedroom lights were off.
It gets dark quite early at that time of year so it wasn’t very late into the evening – maybe around 7:30 or 8:00 – when the first unsuspecting souls came sneaking up the walkway towards the front door. The first two visitors were soapers. I heard them talking quietly and then I heard the crackle of twigs around the bushes as they stepped in the dirt to reach the windows directly below my bedroom window.
I reached down to the bucket, picked up a water balloon and . . . . . WHOMP! A direct hit on the head of one of the boys! The unfortunate recipient of my balloon drop was now soaking wet. He yelled and the second kid jumped a mile. They both took off running and I’m not sure they ever had a clue what had happened.
Several more kids – all boys – came by that evening and each was the recipient of a water balloon dropped from above. Each had the same reaction.
I was quite pleased with myself. There wasn’t a single soap mark to be cleaned off the windows the next morning.