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Great Stories of the Great Plains: The caper of the classroom clapper in 1895

The Jamestown Alert had a dire warning for folks about Halloween in 1895. "Unchain the bulldog, spike down portables, fasten small building, the particular objects of youthful sport, and keep things dark around the house," wrote the Alert that year.

The Jamestown Alert had a dire warning for folks about Halloween in 1895.

"Unchain the bulldog, spike down portables, fasten small building, the particular objects of youthful sport, and keep things dark around the house," wrote the Alert that year.

It wasn't a toolshed the Alert writer was worrying about 121 years ago. The convenience houses would have still been a standard fixture behind every home or business in that era.

The weather cooperated on Oct. 31, 1895, and the mayhem of youth was minimized. There was a full moon in a cloudless sky. In the years before streetlights, a full moon was about the best security lighting available.

"Objects could be discerned at some distance," the Alert wrote. "The boys did not have the usual cloak of darkness to shield their movements, and so matters were more than usually quiet."

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There was a little mischief that night, although the reporter referred to it as a harmless joke.

"The boys climbed up the high school tower and removed the clapper from the bell," the reporter said in the last paragraph of the article. "This morning (they) enjoyed a 10 minute play spell while it was being replaced."

Evidently the school day can't begin until the clapper clangs.

The Alert said there were other pranks but didn't feel they were worth mentioning.

There was some other excitement in Jamestown that day when a runaway team of horses crashed through the front of a local tailor shop.

"It is not stated whether or not the team was racing to see which could first get one of his winter suits when they attempted a forcible entry to his shop," wrote the Alert in a front page article.

The horses did quite a bit of damage, and a pedestrian on the street was knocked down.

"One tried the door and the other the window and each was eminently successful," the article said, referring to the team of horses. "Four lights of glass were shivered, the door jamb sprung and the front of the building wrecked."

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The article does not mention whether the farmer driving the team of horses bought a winter suit. It does note that the man knocked down on the street was up and about the next day.

The article reads as much like an advertisement for the tailor and his inventory of winter suits as it does an accident report.

But I'm guessing the only business that came out a winner in this incident was the lumberyard that provided window glass and doors in Jamestown.

Keith Norman can be reached at Keith@KeithNormanBooks.com

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