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Folklore: Mischief Night

GUEST,glueman 19 Oct 10 - 03:52 PM
Mavis Enderby 19 Oct 10 - 05:32 PM
Zany Mouse 20 Oct 10 - 11:34 AM
greg stephens 20 Oct 10 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,PeterC 20 Oct 10 - 03:45 PM
JHW 21 Oct 10 - 07:51 AM
greg stephens 21 Oct 10 - 08:30 AM
Joe Offer 21 Oct 10 - 01:49 PM
Mrs.Duck 21 Oct 10 - 03:14 PM
LadyJean 22 Oct 10 - 12:43 AM
Rob Naylor 22 Oct 10 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,glueman 22 Oct 10 - 10:52 AM
Backwoodsman 22 Oct 10 - 03:09 PM
EBarnacle 22 Oct 10 - 11:45 PM
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Subject: Mischief Night
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 03:52 PM

A recent Fortean Times article put me in mind of Roud's 'The English Year', with regional variations on Halloween, such as Punkie Night and Mischief Night. MN may have been widespread but appears to have become limited to (roughly) the Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire coalfields by the mid C20th. I remember it as a child but it has all but succumbed to the plastic version of Halloween we now 'enjoy'.

Does mischief night and its variations endure or have stolen gateposts and 'spirit knocking' all gone?


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Subject: RE: Mischief Night
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:32 PM

"Mischievous night" (4th November) was still fairly well known in the Lincoln area in the 1970s.

Folks in the UK who complain about the importation of "trick or treat" might do well to remember it's an old tradition come home to roost!

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Mischief Night
From: Zany Mouse
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 11:34 AM

I blush when I remember how mischievous we were in Wombwell, West Yorkshhire, on Mischief Night. That was back in the 50s and 60s.

Rhiannon


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Subject: RE: Mischief Night
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 01:43 PM

It was still going strong in north Lancashire, on Nov 4, in the late 70's. I fear it has now mostly gone over to Oct 30 and plastic American tridents and trick or treats now.
Guys, I am glad to say, are still on the streets in Stoke-on-Trent.


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Subject: RE: Mischief Night
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 03:45 PM

Was never current in the South East in my lifetime or my parents. Halloween is driven entirely by the supermarkets down here.

I haven't seen a guy for about 30 years.


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Subject: RE: Mischief Night
From: JHW
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 07:51 AM

Yes we went out on Mischief Night early 60s in the North Riding of Yorkshire. We pinched (and hid) gates and threw empty tins in the pub and got a good clip if caught but we never damaged anything.
Must seem a bit tame to today's vandals and terrorists.


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Subject: RE: Mischief Night
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 08:30 AM

The Guys in Stoke are relatively crude. The heads recently used to be just paper bags with a face drawn on, but in the last year or two these are being replaced with Scream masks, or similarly Halloweeny stuff. Very good one a couple of days ago outside Sainsbury's in Stoke: it was a mother baby pair, both with scary plastic masks(one big one small). Mother Guy clutching baby Guy maternally, lying propped against the wall. Rather eerie. And the kids still say "Penny for the Guy". I really ought to be photographing them, we may be in the very last years of this kind of thing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Mischief Night
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 01:49 PM

As I recall, Devil's Night is the night before Halloween. When I was a kid in Detroit in the 1950s, we'd play practical jokes. Somewhere along the way, Devil's Night in Detroit became a night for starting fires. Nowadays, several homes are burned down every Devil's Night in Detroit - there were 800 fires set in Detroit on Devil's night in 1984. The number of fires has declined, but it's still a serious problem.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Mischief Night
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 03:14 PM

Mischief night (Nov 4th) certainly happened where I grew up (Essex/London border) but had already died out by the time I went to high school. Penny for the guy continued for a number of years after that but Halloween was barely even apparent. When I first moved to Stalybridge 'Cob calling' was more apparent than Guys - kids used to knock and sing 'we come a cob calling for bonfire night'. Traditionally we should have given cobs of coal but they of course wanted money.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Mischief Night
From: LadyJean
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 12:43 AM

Yeah, Devil's night is still October 30 in Western Pennsylvania, a night for squirting shaving cream around the area, pouring vegetable oil on people's windshields. (Hint, if somebody does that to you, don't hit it with the wiper fluid. It will make the oil congeal, and you won't be able to see through it. Just head for the gas station, and clean off the windshield there.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Mischief Night
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 06:33 AM

Mischief Night (4th Nov) was alive and well in the West Riding in the mid to late 60s. None of this soppy American *threatening* to do a trick *unless* bridbed with a treat....if you were targetted, that was it...no reprieve!

Gate stealing was our main thing. We'd pile them on our "bogies" (carts made with pram wheels and old palette timber) and take them a far away as possible. On one occasion we managed to get over 20 sets piled up at a quiet crossroads about a mile away without anyone seeing us.

Another thing was to link all the doorknobs and/ or knockers in a row of terraced houses (only worked on back to back terraces) together then knock on one or all (depending on how we'd got the knockers and knobs linked). Since back-to-backs (or "dubbel rows") had no back door, the poor sods were stuck inside until either soneone could fit a knife through the door gap to cut the line, or someone got out of a window!

Sometimes we'd throw bangers into pubs, but we stopped doing that after one year spending 2 hours shivering under a signal box near Cleckheaton station as 3-4 local coppers searched for us.

Another trick in estates with parallel streets was to "mortar" one road from another. Also dangerous. You'd take the barrel of a cycle pump and hild it upwards at an off-vertical angle. Drop a banger down it until the blue pper was visible through the threaded hole at the end. Drop a piece of scrunched paper and then a handful of dried peas (if you were feeling nice) or gravel (if you were feeling nasty) down the barrel, light the fuse and spray the next road over with projectiles. It was possible to break windows with this, but we didn't set out to do that. Mostly we just ended up giving passers-by unexpected aerial showers. You'd have someone as a lookout at an intersection to warn you when people were coming along the parallel street so you could time your "mortaring" to try and hit them. They could never catch you!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Mischief Night
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 10:52 AM

From those responses MN appears to have died out in parallel with guy making. Or have they gone underground awaiting their time?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Mischief Night
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 03:09 PM

Mischief Night (4th November) was certainly alive and well in my part of the Lincolnshire Backwoods when I was a teenager in the 60's. Many a bonfire stack set prematurely ablaze, and lots of naughtiness with gates, dustbins (a Tuppenny Cannon in an empty dustbin sounded like the opening bombardment of WW3), and doorknobs.

It was still going too when my kids were young in the 80's, but I think it died out when we got brainwashed with the shitty, mercenary Halloween crap via the vile American programs our TV channels forced on us.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Mischief Night
From: EBarnacle
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 11:45 PM

Back in the 50's, 60's and 70's in suburban New Jersey, it was minor vandalism as a rule. A lot of soaping went on.

Some of us lived near stables or other rural animal locations and used to collect the droppings for "fire bags." We would put a paper bag of some sort of manure on a doorstep, light the sack, ring the bell and run far enough to be out of the direct light. When the door was answered, the natural reaction of the homeowner was to stomp the bag to put the fire out. 'Nuff sed.

TPing [toilet papering] a house or front yard was common.

The famous potato in the exhaust pipe was also fairly common.

One time, when my mother was teaching, we heard a rumor that some of her students were coming over to "egg" our house. After it got dark, I waited behind a neighbors bushes and waited until they were pretty much in position. Rising up behind them, I opined in my best basso, ghoulish, voice "I wouldn't do that, if I were you." They fled into the night and were not seen in our neighborhood again.


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