Old Man Tinkum Scary Camp Prank
Part of the camp experience was being treated to a scary story and being frightened by counselors and other campers. It was a tradition to take campers to the outskirts of a nearby cemetery and tell them the story of old man Tinkum. Old man Tinkum was supposedly a traveling salesman that lived in the area around the camp two hundreds years ago. Evidently he died in a fire while asleep in his home and still haunts the grounds of the camp to this day. To appreciate this fully it is useful to know that the camp was located in a secluded, wooded-tract of land, far from any urban areas.
Wanting to carry on this tradition, I went about scaring the hell out of campers. My parents had purchased an old man mask that was freakishly realistic when they were in their early 20′s and had given the mask to me for my use and enjoyment. It was in surprisingly good shape. When worn, the mask instantly transforms you into the creepiest looking person many have ever seen. The eyes seem to haunt from behind a bulbous, round, decaying, wrinkled, and bald head draped with white and gray hair at the sides and back. It is scary enough to freak out adults, so as you can imagine, it worked wonders on campers who had just heard the story of old man Tinkum. To complete the look of old man Tinkum I wore an old pair of jeans with a flannel shirt and carried a full sized wood chopping axe.
My belief is that it is sometimes scarier to think you have seen something out of the ordinary than actually seeing something abnormal. With this philosophy in hand, I would walk about the campgrounds late at night, allowing only a few campers to briefly get a glimpse of me and then move out of their field of vision. As campers came out of their cabins to use the restroom or went to brush their teeth, I would sit or walk in the distance only barely visible. Many of the campers, bleary eyed from a full days activities, would do a double take, eyes bulging, and yell or run as their body’s adrenal glands kicked in to deliver a shot of epinephrine in full force. Some, after their initial shock and flight, would come back to see if what they had seen was real or just a hallucination. If they did, I would hide from their view so they would have to wonder if they really did see old man Tinkum or their mind was just playing tricks on them. Of course there were occasions when I would just start walking towards them holding or swinging the axe and they would scream and run like the wind. How could I resist?
I am still amazed at those who had the curiosity and courage to come back to see if they had really seen old man Tinkum. Believe me, if I saw someone in that mask, I would have bolted and never turned back. I just hope I didn’t cause any of them to wet their cots the following night because they were too frightened to come out of their cabin to use the restrooms.
In college, I always wanted to try scaring strangers by walking in the wooded areas of the campus with the mask on but feared I would be placed in jail for doing so. However, my roommates did help me to scare the hell out of our friends who had never seen the mask. After people had a few beers and were feeling tipsy or in an altered state, my roommate would begin asking people if they had heard about the old man stalker running loose in the city. A half hour later, I would sneak out of the house with a large kitchen knife, start banging on the door, and when they came to answer it, really give them a good scaring. One of my friends said it was a good thing he didn’t have his gun because he would have shot me dead.