Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Tuesday, October 17, 2006



In October, we see pumpkins everywhere. Farmers who planted seeds in the spring have fields full of orange and white pumpkins. Some farmers bring the pumpkins to the farmers' market. Some farmers invite children and parents to visit the "pumpkin patch" to buy pumpkins, gourds, dried flowers, or multi-color corn to decorate houses. Maybe they also have tractor rides.

After buying pumpkins you can put them in a display on your table or on your porch. When I put pumpkins on the porch, the squirrels always chew into them because they want to eat the seeds.

The best thing to do with pumpkins is to make jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. These pictures show the Jack-o-Lantern that Mae made and the ones Miriam and Alice made last year. With a big candle-lit grin, a jack-o-lantern reminds us of lots of old stories.

In a book called "The Marvelous Land of Oz" we learn more about the land of Oz where Dorothy Gale from Kansas had once traveled on the Yellow Brick Road with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and Wizard. In the new book, we meet Jack Pumpkinhead. A boy named Tip had carved a Jack-o-Lantern and then made a body from sticks to make a pumpkin man.
An old witch sprinkled this pumpkin man with the Marvelous Powder of Life, and Jack Pumpkinhead became alive. Jack and Tip then shared many adventures in Oz.

Another very old story called "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" about a schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane ends up being about a pumpkin. Let's see...

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Ichabod Crane himself looked like a scarecrow. His sleeves were too short for his long thin arms. His clothes flapped when he walked. "His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew." Ichabod Crane loved to read ghost stories, and he often told them to the people in Sleepy Hollow. At night, Ichabod Crane had to go home through dark lanes and country roads. He often imagined that he saw one special ghost from the stories he told. This ghost was called "The Headless Horseman."

Ichabod Crane especially liked a girl named Katrina van Tassel. Her father was a very rich farmer who lived near Sleepy Hollow. Another young man named Brom Bones also loved her. Brom Bones and his friends often played tricks on Ichabod Crane and tried to make him look silly. Ichabod didn't understand what was happening.

One autumn night, Ichabod Crane rode his horse to a party at Katrina's house. His horse also was silly looking: "He was gaunt and shagged, with a ...head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral, but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it." When Ichabod rode, his elbows and knees stuck out, so he and the horse looked very funny.

At the party were many good things to eat. Doughnuts, "crisp and crumbling crullers, sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream." Everyone danced, sang, and told ghost stories.

Some people talked about the Headless Horseman and how, if he got near to a creek or a river, he fell in the water and turned into a skeleton. Brom Bones said that he had once had a race with the Headless Horseman, and had ridden his horse faster.

On his way home, Ichabod Crane began to think he would see the ghosts in the stories. Everything looked scary. Suddenly he saw a very large, strange figure on horseback. It looked as if it had no head on its shoulders, but instead was holding its head underneath its arm. Ichabod rode faster and faster. Finally he arrived at the bridge, where he thought he could leave the ghost behind. But it threw the head at him.

In the morning, the ghost's head turned out to be a pumpkin. And silly Ichabod turned out to have run away to New York. Brom Bones then married Katrina. Whenever anyone mentioned Ichabod, Brom Bones "always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell."

(The illustration is from the 1867 edition. For the long version by Washington Irving, see Project Gutenberg:

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