You cannot help but smile when you drive by “Hank’s Pumpkintown” on Route 27 in Southampton, especially in October. Even while driving you can’t help but marvel at all the pumpkins in the field along the road. Big ones, small ones and odd shaped ones. Then you watch families coming out carrying their prized picks. The smiles on the small kids as they proudly parade to the family car is what east end life is all about.
Thirty years ago, I remember annually taking my girls out to a rural pumpkin stand to purchase our pumpkins. Besides pumpkins we would end up with apples, apple cider, apple pie, perhaps a candy apple or two and of course an apple pie.
I used to carve the pumpkins to make Jack-o-lanterns. I used to pride myself how well I could do it especially after doing it every October for decades. My daughter now does it for her daughter, all part of that wonderful circle of life. The celebration of Halloween itself is a wonderful circle of life.
If you are sixty-something you have to remember bobbing for apples to get the magic apple with a dime in it! Unfortunately, that practice is not done anymore, obvious safety issues.
Even to this day I can remember “trick or treating,” as a small child up to my teens. I don’t recall my parents ever out with us. Things are a lot different today. A group of friends would go out for hours and fill pillowcases with candy and treats and go home and get another pillow case to fill. It was always strange to see mom and dad sampling their favorite candy and feel embarrassed when we walked in on them raiding our stash.
In our small town of Pelham Manor, there were special homes who we all went to. Places where the adults dressed up in scary costumes with their house lit up and decorated for the season. We knew who gave out the best candy and which homes didn’t. There was one huge house where they served us apple cider and asked questions about the night. The old couple, perhaps sixty-something folks would tell us about when they were kids and which were the best houses then. I believe we would stay out at least until 9pm as did all the other kids. The streets and lanes was filled with many groups of five or six kids of all ages never with parents hovering with flashlights. Yes, it was a bummer those years when it rained and we had to wear rain covering stuff over our costumes. I think I was a vagabond almost every year although I do remember once wearing a kid’s Mets outfit one year when they were the new baseball team in New York.
It was quite a “déjà vu,” when years later I was a hovering parent (post Etan Patz abduction) standing behind my two daughters going down the same streets, going to the same houses, and amazingly sometime seeing the same adults giving out the candy. I believe my girls did get to the cider home, sadly it was just the very old wife left, still with the crystal bowl with chilled cider and the silver ladle for serving.
Finally, I must mention that my girls were raised across the field of Prospect Hill Grammar School in Pelham Manor. Our house stood on the corner of Oak and Clay and because of that location we perhaps lead the town in” trick or treaters,” with well over 400 every year. The amount of candy we gave out was legendary. There is a fitting ending to this column. My oldest daughter and her husband now are raising their daughter in England. They actually decorate their home in England for Halloween. In England, Halloween is not such a big tradition as it is in the USA, however because of their efforts on Halloween night hundreds of little kids ring their doorbell. During the height of covid last year my son-in-law (MIT Degree) created a pully system to deliver the candy safely to the trick or treaters in front of their Halloween decorated home. They were very proud that they did not let Covid interfere with their tradition. Celebrate Halloween 2021.