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Archive for November 4th, 2008

Devil’s Night

If you lived in (or near) the city of Detroit in the 80’s, you knew that the day before Halloween was a scary time. Though Devil’s Night was most notorious for setting abandoned homes on fire, it was a much more innocent event for the kids in our neighborhood. We weren’t allowed to stay out much past dusk, but we tried to squeeze in a game or two of “witch” (see the block party article for a description), followed by a few harmless pranks.

Usually, we would ring a neighbor’s doorbell, then run and hide in the bushes. Never the same house more than once and we were always called home for the evening before it was late. One time a rogue faction of kids decided to toss eggs at cars despite our protest. Those that chose not to participate watched the action with a mixture of fear and excitement from a safe distance. One driver pulled his car over, got out, and yelled at the rebels. They threw a few more eggs in his direction, but, luckily, none of them had good aim. The usual running and dodging through alleys and secret paths ensued and we all regrouped in Joe’s tree fort to trade stories. Though most of us didn’t throw any eggs, we enjoyed sharing in the excitement.

I remember a few years when (presumably) the “big kids” on the block soaped a few windows and egged cars in driveways, but this is all still pretty minor in retrospect. The next year we stood on guard with walkie-talkies linking our guard posts… theoretically… the models most of us purchased from Radio Shack really didn’t have enough range to cover the block. We walked up and down the block in groups of three of four in our denim jackets wielding flashlights. We really thought that we were the reason no more eggings happened… it was likely pure coincidence.

What’s not a coincidence is that Devil’s Night is gone. Former Mayor Dennis Archer started the Angel’s Night initiative in 1995 that organized community patrols and enforced a curfew for minors. The first year, incidences of arson plummeted… in fact, I can’t recall a single reported Devil’s Night-related fire.

Add comment November 4th, 2008 by duane


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