photoHalloween in our neighborhood is about decorating your front porch, passing out candy with your neighbors and trying your best to scare the tar out of some little ones.

But in the early 20th century, Halloween was about … elves? According to a newspaper story from Oct. 31, 1904, Halloween “is given over by general consent to the fairies and elves and hobgoblins from a time too far back for remembrance…”

“In general, the young people of Dallas will honor the reign of the elves,” the story states.

Halloween traditions included walking backwards down stairs while looking into a mirror, according to the story. Supposedly, you could see the face of your “life mate” in the mirror. You could also throw apple peels over your left shoulder with the expectation that they would land in the shape of your future life mate’s initial.

Besides trying to divine one’s future spouse, mischief makers would steal carriage gates, remove signs from businesses and paint farm animals as pranks.

We wouldn’t recommend trying any of those things now unless you want to spend a night in county jail. But here’s how Halloween in Oak Cliff went down on Oct. 31, 1907:

“In Oak Cliff, the Halloween jokers worked overtime,” a newspaper story from the following day states. “Merchants doing business around Tenth street and Lancaster avenue [That intersection no longer exists, but it would’ve been close to Tenth and Jefferson.], upon opening their stores this morning, will find things turned topsy-turvy, so to speak. At a late hour last night — or more properly speaking, at an early hour this morning — a crowd of these mischief makers who conversed in a dialect that would puzzle any linguist to interpret, were engaged in transferring the regular condition of things to a state of bewildering disorder. Hams and sides of bacon hung high from telephone poles, barrels crowned the roofs of buildings, grocery store signs were placed in front of drug stores and various other practical jokes were perpetrated.”