Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jack-o'-lanterns and Halloween

As a kid, I remember counting down the days to Halloween. I wasn’t alone. It was way behind Christmas, but several jumps ahead of Thanksgiving in popularity with my friends, too. Really, what wasn’t to like?

We got to wear costumes, stay out a little later than normal, go door-to-door begging for goodies and cop a sugar high skookum enough to keep us just shy of knocking a hole in the ceiling. (We won’t go into the subsequent visits to the dentist.) And if all that weren’t enough, there were the pumpkins magically turned into scary jack-o’-lanterns, glowing ominously from porches. Rather than lights guiding the way for trick-or-treaters, we saw them as ghosts waiting for victims to approach close enough to conduct evil doings. 

None of my contemporaries had actually experienced anything nefarious via close encounters with our local jack-o’-lanterns, but there were… shall we say… rumors. Every year there were reports of that one unlucky kid - normally in a distant neighborhood where none us had ever been - that suffered the consequences of getting too close to a malicious melon. Reports of what actually happened were always nebulous, but the results were always graphic and dire.

I'm not the only kid in the house. Mrs. Poynor did this one.

I survived my childhood Halloweens, and the attendant close encounters with innumerable glowing pumpkins, to become a major fan of such porch decorations. Granted, anymore a jack-o’-lantern is somewhat superfluous to all the decorations scattered about in many yards, getting lost among the ten-foot inflatable vampires, the motorized ghosts and elephant-sized  stretches of polyester spider webs. Honestly, there are some yards in our community that look as if something very large barfed up Halloween. Not ours.

Rumor has it this guy ate a kid.

Our neighborhood doesn’t get much in the way of trick-or-treat traffic. It’s not that there aren’t kids around. It’s the way houses in our neighborhood are scattered about. The limited return on efforts expended sends the little beggars into town, proper, where the houses are situated in a fashion more conducive to collection of candy. Consequently, on a good year, we see about six kids. It’s hard to justify catering to such a small crowd.

Regardless, I’ve always insisted on putting out at least two jack-o’-lanterns. The candy avarice of my youth has been replaced by a childish enthusiasm for the simple display of perforated pumpkins. Mrs. Poynor leans more toward the modern approach of flash and glitz decoration and has been advocating for it for years. Last year I finally acquiesced to adding a few lights around the door in addition to the pumpkins on the porch. So, on the 28th of October we put out three jack-o’-lanterns and cranked up the lights. The effort produced results that very night, drawing in a couple of early visitors. Unfortunately, they had four legs and weren’t interested in candy.

October 28

I’ve been thinking about an inflatable vampire to keep the moose away this year.

October 29 and two moose later.
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