Todd: Tictacs, demons and deviants

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Halloween in the early part of the century — the one before this one — had its moments in and around Ouray County. In 1906, the order of law was anything but the order for All Saints Day. There was vandalism, tictacs (a prank involving cutting notches in the ends of a wooden spool and spinning it by string against a window, making a “tick-tack” noise) and even a dead horse.

From the Nov. 2, 1906 Ouray Herald:

Wednesday night was Halloween, the night when the hob-gobs are supposed to be abroad in all the land. In Ouray, it was not a ghost dance. It came nearer being a series of foot races. The night marshals were kept busy by the boys, large and small, carrying out their vandalistic intent. One bunch was captured by the marshals and placed in jail for a few minutes, but were turned loose on the promise to be good. Several signs were torn down and transferred to places where they might appear most ridiculous, outbuildings were overturned, foot bridges destroyed and the usual amount of devastation indulged in by the boys.

The girls, some of them tried to make life an endless nightmare by the use of tictacs, etc. But that has nothing to do with the destruction of property; public or private.

The next week, the Herald ran a report from the Durango Democrat about Halloween antics near our southern neighbor. The account went as follows:

Kids will be kids, especially on Halloween.

Early last evening Enston Wood and young Dickerson were driving a single rig up to the T.E. Peterson home on Junction creek, bringing some cider, where there was to be a Halloween party. The boys are juniors in high school. They had heard that the freshmen high school boys were going to hold them up and prepared themselves against them with a shotgun. At the point of junction on the Durango and Animas City roads leading up Junction creek, sure enough the freshmen made their “rush” on horseback with the result that Enston Wood shot Ray David through the fleshy part of the calf of the leg, just beneath the skin, the shot killing the horse.

Even the mines were a blast, so to speak, on Halloween. From the Nov. 5, 1909 Herald:

Mischievous though harmless pranks were played as usual by the youngsters of (Camp Bird Mills) this Halloween. We ought to have been scared by a ghostly apparition which appeared Saturday evening in trailing white robes, with ghastly countenance out of which stared a pair of glaring eyes. It glided all round the houses, from one doorway to another; but somehow that ghost’s movements were a little too lively, and when a shotgun was brought out by a wary householder, our ghost visitant vanished into space.

Even the Herald reporter in this Nov. 3, 1898 account escaped the mischievous mob by the slimmest of margins:

Halloween was observed in due form by a large majority of Ouray’s noble youths. Several politicians had hairbreadth escapes while wending their way homewards during the wee small hours. Our local reporter having worked hard and late, headed for his couch and the arms of Morpheous Murphy, or some old place, about 2 a.m. The night was dark, his lamps were dim, but being an ex-tourist and an old-time circus man, he escaped serious injury. Aside from several yards of cuss words and after having walked a network of ropes, barbed wire and done the leap for life over a forest of fence posts, vehicles and a few telegraph poles, his nerves and deportment averages normal.

So, if history repeats itself, the “marshal” will be busy tonight in Ouray County.

Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at 970-325-2838 or