The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Tricks and Pranks in Dugspur, Virginia

By Monroe Tipton © 1984

Issue: May, 1984

I want to talk a little about some of the tricks and pranks the boys used to play in the late 30's and the early 40's, not thinking about the danger involved.

Back then in Dugspur, all the houses were painted white, so we got us a white sack and put a rock in it. We tied it at the top, leaving a loop in the string so we could hang it on a door knob. Then we tied a string to the sack and hid, pulled it back and let the rock hit the door. It wouldn't be long before someone came to the door. Them not seeing anyone, they'd go back to bed. We kept this up for awhile, then we would move on.

On one occasion, a bunch of boys went to Heath Kemp's using the old sack trick. When Heath came out on the porch, one boy had a bucket of cold spring water and dashed it on Heath. I never saw anyone jump up and down, pop his fist and cuss so much in my life. By the time he came to himself and got his old shot gun and started shooting, we were well down the road.

Another time, I think there were 17 of us boys, we rolled a wagon up close to a fellow's barn, got a ladder and some of us got on top of the barn. We had a long rope. The ones on the ground took the wagon apart, tied one piece at a time to the rope which we pulled to the top of the barn, and put back together again. You can imagine what was said when the man looked and saw his wagon on top of the barn.

Another time, some boys played a trick on Flournoy Dalton (his nick-name was Fod). Fod was give up to be the best educated man anywhere around in Math, History, Geography, and all else. We never could understand why he would do what I'm about to tell you about.

His house only had one door and that was in the back of his house. He fastened the door on the inside then crawled out the window in the front of the house when he was going somewhere. Now a bunch of boys knew he did that so they crawled in the window one night while Fod was out and opened the door and got one of Fod's oxen, led it in the house and tied it under the window. Fod always went somewhere for supper every night since he lived by himself.

Now when Fod came home that night, he raised the window, got up in the window and jumped down. In doing so, he landed straddle of the ox's back. You never heard such a racket in your life - ox bellowing, Fod a hollering and cussing. He finally got off and run over to Saford Quesenberry's and got him to come over with a light. Together they finally got the ox out of the house.

Another time, some of us neighbors were going fox hunting the other side of our house. About dusk, John Phillips, Glen Kemp and Roy Taylor came by. I told them to take my dogs and go on. I would be on in a little while, I had a few things I had to do before I could come. I would meet them at the gate near the cornfield in about an hour. I went out there and no one was at the gate. I hollered several times but no one answered. It being Halloween, I thought, now they're going to scare me, so I went down in the corn field and sat down. I hollered a few times more. I could hear our dogs running a good race. I listened awhile, then decided to go back to the house. When I got to the top of the hill above our house, my brother-in-law, Teanie Allison, had come in from Roanoke and was laying on the back of his car listening to a race. When he saw me he raised up and said, "What the heck did you do to them fellows?" I said I never did anything. I never saw anyone. He said John Phillips came by, hat in hand, his coat sticking out behind him and looked like he was taking steps as long as a fence rail. Next was Glen Kemp. He was trying but could not keep up. Roy Taylor was last. He had asthma and couldn't run like the other two. Teanie said he was wheezing and coughing, but he finally got by. Teanie said he laid still and none of them even saw him.

Of course, Halloween is not like it used to be.