ON my front stoop is a hefty pumpkin. If you've priced pumpkins recently, you would realize what a bargain I lugged home for $1.99.
Who buys just one pumpkin anymore?
More and more people seem to buy not just one, but many pumpkins. Their yards are lovely, with the bright orange symbols of fall tucked here, there and everywhere among bounteous pots of mums. The truly ambitious add cornstalks and hay bales.
Behind my lonely pumpkin are two lingering pots of petunias and a single hanging fern. Placed there in the spring, these plants cling to life, the petunias still blooming feebly. I can't bring myself to pitch them in favor of mums that soon would follow them into the trash pile.
While I live with more comforts now than I did as a child growing up in the 1950s and 60s, those frugal values make me a grandchild of the Great Depression.
My parents also would buy a single large pumpkin. On the big night my dad would carve it into a traditional jack-o'-lantern, put a candle inside and place it on the front porch. The expression might be fierce, but the welcoming message was clear.
Then my siblings and I, usually in costumes of our own devising, would venture into the neighborhood. We would encounter our playmates and exchange notes.
"Have you been to that house on the corner?" someone might say. "They're giving out nickel candy bars!"
Like a school of fish, we would race off in hopes of arriving before the supply was depleted.
If we were feeling brave, we would approach the historic West Side home known as the Quarrier Mansion. These days it's called Glenwood and is owned by a foundation.
When I was a girl, two elderly sisters still lived there. They were descendants of the man who bought the pre-Civil War era structure a few years after it was built on a site now bordered by Park Avenue, Orchard Street and Garden Street.
Normally we would get only close enough to pluck honeysuckle from vines on the fence around the large property, which included gardens and a two-story outbuilding that originally served as slave quarters.
On trick or treat night we would dare to enter through the Orchard Street gates, pass the pond with 12-inch goldfish and proceed along the stone path to the grand front entrance.
The sweet elderly sisters would oblige us with candy. It was a relief but also a bit disappointing not to be greeted by someone like Lurch from the Addams Family.