My grandma Bunny was a writer, artist, and editor. She was a stickler for proper grammer, loved to do craft projects with kids (there were many potato-printing sessions in my early years), and believed that it was important to taste new things whenever possible. She was also devoted to the celebration of Halloween.
Bunny raised my dad and his brothers to take seriously the art of costume construction (training that benefited my sister and me greatly during our own childhood years) and to put much thought and planning into the carving of Jack-O-Lanterns.
In 1971, she self-published a little book that pulled all her knowledge of pumpkin carving in one place. She drew all the illustrations, typed out the text on her electric typewriter (she loved that machine and used it for so much. Just seeing its typeface in these pictures brings her back. Strange, I know) and had hundreds of copies printed.
This little book comes from the days long before Martha Stewart or Pinterest. No one had specially designed sets of carving tools and there were no templates that you could tape to your gourd and follow for guidance. Pumpkin carving was a basic endeavor and Bunny tried to elevate its level of artistry. I admire that kind of effort and wonder if she had lived during these blogging times, if she would have embraced the medium.
Throughout my entire life, every time I’ve carved a pumpkin, I’ve pulled out a copy of this little book and consulted it for ideas. I’ve used her tips for false teeth and making the most out of the pumpkin’s natural character. I also always remember to cut the lid off at an angle so that it has an easy resting spot thanks to the teapot analogy she included.
I know that Halloween is just a couple of days away and that chances are very good that most of you have already carved up your pumpkins for this year. But in the slim chance that you haven’t, I thought it would be fun to share a few pages from “How to Make a Great Pumpkin.”
I’d love to hear about your own Halloween traditions! Do you carve pumpkins and toast the seeds? Do you deck the halls with fake cobwebs and spiders? Please do share your stories!