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Column: Half-bar of Swan soap was just the right size for soaping jobs

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Nov. 6, 2004.

WORTHINGTON — You can tackle me, tie me up or tie me down and strap me to a lie detector. You probably will find some wrongdoing, but you will find me innocent of Halloween.

Thoughts of Halloweens gone by crossed my mind Sunday evening. The same thoughts may have occurred to you. I felt good about it. I can’t tell you why, but there never was a Halloween I need to explain or regret.

Oh, we were out with soap two or three times, maybe four times. Half a bar of Swan soap. Swan was the best because Swan had a crease across the center. You easily could split a bar in half; half was just the right size.

Let me tell you something. If it were great fun to soap a car window, I would warn you now. “Watch out! Better get your car inside or I will be out this evening and I will write, ‘Boo!’ on your windshield.” No matter that Halloween is past.

Truth is, it is about as much fun writing on a car window with soap as it is sitting on the front lawn watching the paint fade on the house. Eating popcorn is much more fun. I will have some popcorn.

Maybe strangely, we did not even go Tricks or Treats on Halloween nights. Tom and Jerry, the Flynn twins, taught me Tricks or Treats. They heard of it somewhere. We stopped at Carla Johnson’s one summer evening when it still was light. We said, “Tricks or Treats.” Carla didn’t know what we meant and we didn’t either, really, but she gave us cookies and we were happy. It didn’t occur to us to go to a second house. Dumb kids.

The most fun we ever had — truth — I think this was as much fun as anything I ever did:

For two Halloweens, or three, they organized snake dances under the auspices of the school. The kids came together at the old high school and there were 100 there, maybe 200. Maybe they organized two lines; I don’t remember that.

You would grab the waist or hips of the person ahead of you.

Someone would get behind and grab your waist or hips. Off the great line would go, up alleys and around trees. Round and round the water tower. At least one time, we went to the steps of the old Carnegie library, up one side and down the other. Jack Gruye was at the head of the line beating a bass drum.

Part of the time it was like a great game of Crack the Whip. For kids at the back — the last 20 or 30, in particular — it got as wild as a ride in an amusement park. Some of the kids fell back, just to take up a place at the rear.

Golly, kids. I am sorry they don’t have snake dances still. You can’t know until you have done it how much fun that is.

The most frightening Halloween Worthington ever had — I am sure this is true — was Halloween, 1938. The Globe incited the folly by (of all things) printing a photo of a quite a substantial outdoor privy on the front page of the edition of Oct. 30 and then admonishing, “Leave ’em alone.”

On Halloween night, big kids, high school kids in a large mob, went for that privy, lifted it from it moorings and carried it into Sixth Avenue. The 1200 block.

Next, someone got the idea of pouring kerosene or gasoline over the privy — they got fuel from red lanterns that used to be left along the edges of ditches where street work was being done.

Well, there was a great fire. Fire trucks needed to be called.

Worthington’s police — both of them, or three of them — pushed four boys they believed were ringleaders into the (only) police car and took them to the city jail, which was at the rear of City Hall.

Soon, the whole mob of kids got downtown. They surrounded City Hall, flattened the tires on the police car, sent up great howls and threatened the police — oh — truly threatened. Maybe 200 kids. The boys in the cell were released. The mob ruled. That was a scary night.

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