Halloweens to Remember

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It turned out to be a memorable Halloween in 1954, when electricity in parts of Signal Hill “mysteriously” went out. As anxious parents tried to reassure their offspring that Godzilla (a movie which had come out earlier that year) had not stomped out the lights, they were stumped for an explanation and perhaps a little “spooked” themselves.

If not Godzilla, the terrified youngsters asked, could it be from another monster, also seen in 1954 films, the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Could the creature have somehow been released from his watery abode when a huge plume of water was spotted surging over the town at 20th and Orizaba, before the power outage? As parents regretted allowing their children to see these monster flicks, they somehow managed to calm them down enough to put them to bed.

The following morning things were back to normal and a logical explanation found.

Halloween has always been a time when kids revel in pranks, which they will laughingly tell their children and grandchildren about in later years, with the stipulation THEY should never do such a thing!

What happened that memorable Halloween in 1954 was the result of a prank gone amok.

Several young folk had attached a cable to a fire hydrant, tied the cable’s other end to a car, then took off. The plug’s top was wrenched off, sending a 50-foot stream of water shooting into the air. Gushing water from the hydrant reached high tension wires, endangering water department employees called to cap the geyser.

However, the water department crew couldn’t do their job, with all the dangerous electricity involved. Edison Company employees were brought in to cut power so the water department workers could bring the geyser under control.

Darkness prevailed for some time with power finally turned back on later in the evening, after the kids were hopefully asleep and mom and dad had checked under the bed for any other possible monsters.

One prank that would be hard to duplicate in this day and age happened in 1906.

It seems two boys herded a neighbor’s cow to the city reservoir on Signal Hill and tied her to the top of the boarded-up tank. Unable to get away, the bovine pawed the planking on top of the reservoir and crashed through into 10 feet of water. Her banshee like bawling, spooked some, but eventually brought help and after much effort to calm the swimming, exhausted animal, the cow was hauled out of her bathtub.

No culprits were named. They probably became respectable citizens and may have confessed to their Halloween adventure in later years after a glass or two of bootlegged liquor, readily available in the speakeasies of Signal Hill.

It appears Halloween 2020 will also be memorable. With the Coronavirus still a threat, and the treats in “trick or treating” being handed out far less than in prior years, let’s hope the “tricks” will not step up to fill the void in this most popular, fun holiday!

Claudine Burnett has written 10 books about Southern California history. For more about her, and to access her blogs, visit her website, claudineburnettbooks.com. Also, visit her Facebook page.