I laugh when I think back on the mischief I was involved in during my school years. Nearly all of it was innocuous. None of my mischief was of the “over-the-top” caliber portrayed in so many of those teen “high school” themed movies. To say none of it went farther than we intended, or that none of it got our parents involved would be untrue, but most of our efforts went into creating fun public spectacles and causing a good amount of harmless amusement or consternation for adults.
In keeping with the “spectacle and consternation” theme, we went through dizzying amounts of toilet paper, lawn paint, cellophane, thread, water balloons, fire crackers, sulfur, etc; all tools of “the trade”. Which friend to hang out with was often decided by who had the best mischief plan for the day. During the summer, we could create day-long programs of mayhem. If we got home before our parents did and no police cars were waiting for us, everything was good; and we made sure it always was good because we feared our parents more than we did the police.
Every year, as Halloween approaches, I recall one act of mischievous brilliance which was renowned for its spectacular high visibility. In downtown Westchester, California, at the corner of West Manchester Avenue and South Sepulveda Boulevard, in front of the international House of Pancakes restaurant stands an imported, Italian Marble, ten-foot-tall sculpture of a man with reins in hand standing next to his horse. The statue has been there since at least 1960. Since the statue’s arrival, it has been a frequent target for mischief.
I attended junior high school not far from that intersection. That statue stood in front IHOP’s predecessor, Home Savings & Loan back then. We used to stop at the Save-On Drug Store across the street from the S&L on our way home from school to get ice cream cones. I can see that statue clearly in my mind’s eye. Sometimes the man holding the horse would have flowers in his hand with the reins. Sometimes a mannequin would be perched upon the horse. But, every Halloween, without fail, someone would find a huge pumpkin, hollow it out, carve a face on it and place it over the horseman’s head! Being marble, the statue wasn’t damaged by the pumpkin which adorned it until the fruit rotted away.
I had to know if this was a short-lived prank and if anyone else from my junior high remembered the sight. I posted the question on the school’s alumni Facebook page and received over 100 responses from members spanning classes from the 1960’s to the present! Each one remembered seeing the pumpkin-headed horseman and many of the younger members assured me the tradition continues. Some even “fessed up” to being the ones responsible for placing the pumpkin, including one whose accomplices ran as the police arrived and ended-up having a police officer help him hoist the squash! Everyone wants to see photos of this year’s contribution to this good, harmless, fun-for-all mischief!
If you’re including some mischievous trickery with your Halloween treats, I hope it’s as harmless and its memories as cherished and long-lived as Westchester’s pumpkin-headed horseman!
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