This picture was taken in 1971 at 1024 Abbington Road, Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA. We had already been living there for about two years. Debra and I are standing behind the three “monster” pumpkins we grew that year.
The back of the picture describes the story of what this means:
“Jeff 6, Debra 3 1/2. Jeff grew these pumpkins himself from a seed he found. In the corner is the sandbox and some of my flowers.”
It’s in Mom’s handwriting so obviously she wrote it and intended the message for her mother.
I remember growing pumpkins as being an incredibly fun thing to do. To most kids, growing something from a seed is almost a miracle. Debra and I used to go out and check how much the pumpkin vine had grown and if there was any flowers yet. Once flowers arrived, it wasn’t long before the pumpkin began. It is difficult to convey how exciting it was to grown them.
Once harvested, the pumpkins were used for Halloween. The seeds and guts were extracted and the face patterns cut. Mom would roast some of the seeds in the oven with salt. Fresh pumpkin seeds were always a treat until you had too many of them.
These were very innocent times. Everything seemed so new and interesting.
I remember there were some Peanuts episodes about the pumpkin patch. I used to think of our patch when watching them. I sometimes worried something would happen to the pumpkins like any other “farmer”.
Halloween and pumpkin patches are very American in nature. Having lived in Australia for 10 years, Halloween is celebrated here in a very limited fashion. In fact, pumpkins in Australia includes many variants of what Americans would call squash. Because most Australia kids didn’t grow up with pumpkins of Halloween, it is largely ignored or misunderstood. There is nothing wrong with that.
Because our family is both American and Australian, we try to celebrate both cultures. As part of this, when we were in America in 2005 during Halloween we made a point of joining in. Costumes, a pumpkin, and trick-or-treating! Once exposed to the full nature of Halloween, my family was impressed. Somehow the concept of asking for candies (lollies) in costume was very popular with the kids. They quickly raided the neighborhood and couldn’t wait to get back to the house to check what they had gained.
The memories certainly came back strong that night. It was great to share a part of my childhood with my own family.