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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Brazil Buzz

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Faces

Once there was a jack -o - lantern

When October winds were snappy

With a countenance so pleasant

And a smile so bright and happy.

Mother said," It would be lovely

Just to keep that smile right here,

But a jack -o - lantern withers

If it's kept around all year."

Then she said, " I think I'll do it!."

With a twinkle in her eyes,

She made that smiling pumpkin

Into jack - o -lantern pies.

The children quickly put them

In their tummies' empty places,

And since then they've all been wearing

Happy jack - o - lantern faces!

Jane Merchant

I have been wearing a happy jack - o - lantern face ever since a week after the Halloween pumpkin carve of 1939. Dad purchased my sibling's pumpkin that year, because he moved his tiny family to the homestead a month earlier, much too late to raise a crop.

That year, there was barely enough money to keep up, but he managed to find the perfect pumpkin and carved out a happy face.

Since the previous owners of the house had not vacated the premises, he and mom lived in the detached summer kitchen in the rear, for the time being.

That first Halloween, 72 years ago, mother was expecting to deliver another baby. Perhaps , I would be a Halloween baby, their fourth child.

Imagine that. Their little spook waited to arrive into this world until November 4, 1939.

Dad said the pumpkin he carved wasn't very large, but of adequate enough size to hold a homemade candle made by a friend's mother. He placed the orange globular object on the well - cover and lit the candle.

The children danced around the well platform, as the tiny pumpkin smiled at the merriment. Then they sat on the back stoop of the house while he told his wide- eyed children scary stories handed down to him by elder Scotch relatives, during his youth. I know first hand that storyteller knew how to bring on the shivers and send chills up the spines. I sat in his circle many times.

When the wind picked up, on that dark night, the light flickered, and it was as if old Jack's eyes were twinkling. He passed out juicy apples collected from Campbell's woods earlier.

During times like that all was right with his world.

Come the next year he raised his own pumpkins. Dad carved fine jack -o- lanterns with his sharpest pocket knife, if not for his kids for others.

Every year thereafter the crops thrived on our fertile soil. He raised pumpkins, hundreds of them, until he died in 1994.

He was a wonderful carver. Faces were always happy. Features were perfectly aligned. Teeth spaced like mine!

Some humongous and perfectly round beauties won prizes, some sold and many more than that just hung around long enough to ferment. The ducks drank from the discards and sometimes got a little tipsy. More than that, every animal and everybody around his place seemed to get a piece of the pie.

Now, I am reminded of the pies some of those jack o - lanterns became. We sure enjoyed enough of them. The peels on my dad's pumpkins were tough, but with a hunter/butcher in the house, there was always a carving knife honed to perfection.

Mom pared with ease, dug out the guts and went for the seeds. The chicken's ate pulp, and we saved the dried seeds in store for the next years planting season. "Waste not - Want not" Yep, that's what he said!

The pies were delicious. She made two at a time in the old nickel clad coal range oven. Crusts were made with home- rendered lard. The fillings were not quite as smooth as silk; however, the pies she baked were the best, pure and simple.

It is nice to visit those good times with my family again and once more, if only for a little while. I smile every time!

Everyone is talking about the economy - hard times. I am right there with you. I can't begin to tell you the hardships and disappointments I have known. But, behind every cloud, I do believe there is a silver lining, and if we stop to appreciate all that God has given us and be grateful for that; we will be OK.

I do not depend, exclusively, on Halloween to carve-out a happy face. I wear this custom -- made gapped tooth smile every day of the year. I hope you are smiling too!

Thanks to the readers who called and visited the folks who live in little blue house at the end of the road. Thank you Bette for the beautiful card.

You touched my heart!

I can be reached by phone at 812 - 446 - 4852 or by email at pmlsartor@aol.com.

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