I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
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Farmers key in on Halloween humor
By Barry Schrader.................................October
After a Cattlemens Association board meeting on
Halloween that year several men were enlisted to help remove
the keyboard from the barn and drive it to the home of John and
Joy Pigott, quietly laying it on their front porch, covered with
a sheet. Joy was home alone and, when looking out the window,
spotted the sheet draped over something, panicked and called
her father-in-law George to report what she thought might be
a body on her porch.
It wasnt just kids who got involved in Halloween pranks
back in the 1960s and 70s. A story I heard recently shows
farmers do have a sense of humor if you dont try
to steal their outhouses.
This prank began innocently
back in the fall of 1963 when a young farm couple living on Lloyd
Road between Genoa and Sycamore decided to buy a used piano for
their 9-year-old son Norman so he could learn to play. They found
an old upright in Sycamore for $50 and enlisted the help of three
other farmers Elmer Troutman, John Pigott and Lenny Watson
to haul it home in their pickup. Watson got the job of
riding in the truckbed with the piano.
a corner too sharp caused the piano to flip end over end onto
the road, narrowly missing Watson. They managed to pick it up
in pieces and proceeded to their house, quickly reassembling
the broken parts before the farm wife got home.
when she tried playing it, the keys were frozen and no sound
came out. They confessed what happened and the piano was relegated
to the barn.
Their collective minds began working
on what to do with it.
An old piano keyboard found new life at Halloween (Photo ny
This was just the beginning.
The next Halloween it was deposited by some of
the same pranksters into a round hog feeder at the Walter Sanderson
farm. His landlord Joe Greek happened to see it sticking out
of the feeder first when visiting the farm the next day and inquired
of Sanderson, with tongue in cheek, if his pigs were musically
inclined. It is not clear what happened to the keyboard after
Then in 1965, a committee at the Sycamore
United Methodist Church was deciding how to dispose of another
old upright and these same pranksters got involved. Troutman
and Tom Fenstermaker volunteered to haul it away. On Halloween
Ray and Carol Larson came home to their farm on County Line Road
and saw a Blue Van & Storage truck waiting in their driveway.
The driver said he had a delivery and the charge
was $20. They opened the truck door and there was the discarded
church piano inside.
They decided to accept the
old clunker and stored it in their barn where it stayed for 12
years, collecting dust and pigeon droppings.
in 1977 came the 40th birthday for Carols brother, David
Wirsing. While his family was gone for the day the instrument
was carted over to his farm on Darnell Road north of Sycamore
and deposited in the front yard. The mystery remains as to what
happened to that old piano. Wirsing never admitted that a piano
was dumped on him, and he passed away in 2003. His widow Nancy
doesnt recall where it ended up.
year speculation has it that a new farmhouse built on Lindgren
Road has a nice big front porch, and who knows what might happen
this Halloween. So now you know that farmers do share a mischievous
sense of humor.
Full disclosure: The young farm
couple who bought the first piano in 1963 are Ray and Carol Larson,
By the way, the 50th annual Sycamore
Pumpkin Festival parade on Oct. 30 will not only have former
Sycamore City Manager Bill Nicklas leading it as Grand Marshal
and festival founder Wally Thurow not far behind, but entry No.
37 will contain royalty. Yours truly and wife Kay are serving
as king and queen at Oak Crest this year and will be waving to
the crowd from the back seat of a classic 1966 Rambler convertible
if it isnt raining or freezing cold, that is.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115