When I was a growing boy, Halloween was just not that big of a deal. I mean, there was trick-or-treating and a few minor pranks pulled, but that was about it.

There were two pranks that became the stuff of rural legend in our part of the country. On one prank, a group of high-school boys took a mule wagon apart and re-assembled it on top of a general store. In yet another episode, a bunch of boys took white paint and zebra stripped a farmer's mule. They even painted white circles around the mule's eyes. It is told that the next morning, the farmer was surprised, and even the mule had a funny look on his face.

Another popular Halloween prank (or trick) was often discussed among my boyhood friends. First, you shoveled a fresh pile of cow manure into a big, brown paper grocery sack. Then, you carefully took the sack to town and placed it on someone's front porch, just in front of the door. After tearing the top of the sack open, you wadded up a few newspaper pages and placed them on top of the sack. Then, you set the paper of fire, rang the door bell, and ran.

Under ideal conditions, the victim would open the front door, see the paper ablaze, rush outside and attempt to stomp out the fire. The second most desired circumstance would be that the stomper was wearing his house shoes. The very best situation would be for him to be barefooted.

I never tried this particular prank, but I had friends who did and reported excellent results.

During my sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, I lived on a farm out in the Concord community of Knoxville. On Halloween night of that year, I failed to get away from the campus before dark. As I was driving back to my residence, I had an uneasy feeling about being out after dark on Halloween night.

I was making my final turn for home onto Concord Road when I noticed a suspicious looking car coming in my direction. As we met, I heard a "thud" and "splat" sound as something impacted the driver's side door on my car. At the same instant, I felt the slightest sensation of wetness on my face. It was almost like a burst of mist.

Surprised and bewildered, I put my hand to my face. I hardly felt any wetness.

The situation made no sense. All my car windows were up.

When I arrived at the farm house, I surveyed the damage with a flashlight. At the top of my car door I found a slight, smooth dimple in the metal just below the vent window, obviously made by the egg that had left its contents all over the side of my car.

As you may recall, vehicles in the 1960's had a small, triangular shaped "vent" window in the driver's and passenger's front doors. Unlike the small windows in pickup truck doors, the windows in cars couldn't be locked shut. It took me a few minutes to figure out the mystery.

The force of the egg impacting the car door had pushed the vent window open, ever so slightly, allowing some of its content to make it inside the car.

That was confirmed when I made it inside the house and looked in the bathroom mirror. To my surprise, I had orange egg yolk on the left side of my face, in my eyebrow and in my hair.

I will say I took some satisfaction in the fact that the egg-throwing Halloween prankster could never have imagined the success of his foray.

Alas, no one throws eggs any more. And no one rolls yards on Halloween.

Back when I was a boy, pranksters use to set car tires on fire on back roads. You don't see that any more. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) would be on your trail.

All in all, it was a safer time back when I was trick-or-treating. My parents would drop me off in town around dusk on Halloween night and pick me up at the pre-arranged place about ten o'clock. And people didn't spend a lot of money on Halloween.

I marvel when I see the elaborate display of Halloween costumes and candies at Wal-Mart. I wonder how much money Americans will spend on Halloween this year. The National Retail Federation estimates right at $6.9 billion. That's right -- $6.9 billion. According to their numbers, the average person celebrating will spend $74.

I, for one, will not spend any money on Halloween this year. I have however, kept my eyes open as I've driven the country roads for the past few days, and I do have a half-gallon of white paint left over from painting the ceilings in my house a few years back.

If you, by chance, have a black mule, you might want to put him in the barn next Tuesday night.

Copyright 2017 Jack McCall