Jack O’Lantern: The First Halloween Pumpkin


It’s the season when the howls of lost dogs and the chickety-chickety of oak leaves trembling in the chilled winds awaken children from their dreams.  There at their bedroom windows, little ones just like you, secretly spy on October shimmering in the moonlight.  Halloween is fast approaching.

By now, you’ve tried on your costumes, practiced your Trick or Treat and checked your flashlight’s batteries.  Some of you may have already carved spooky grins into your pumpkins, but few know the real story behind that two-tooth smile.  Just so happens I do.  And I’m willing to share it for the mere promise of a treat.  But since children shouldn’t take or give candy to strangers, let me introduce myself-- I’m Deidra O’Dell, the Queen of theSheanchaithe; the finest Irish storytellers in the land.  So sit down a spell, fill up on new vocabulary words, learn a thing or two and sharpen your imagination.  And don’t forget-you owe me my treat.

Folks still talk about the O’Leary clan or the O’Keefe family and some even whisper about the mysterious O’Higgins mob, but nary a mouth dares to mention the name O’Lantern.  It was a respectable enough name till two hundred years ago in Ireland, when Margaret and James O’Lantern had their first son and named him Jack.  

Jack, by all accounts was a horrible child.  He bullied his classmates and sassed his teachers. He pulled his sister’s hair and gobbled up all his little brother’s after-school snacks.  Jack had eaten so many treats that his teeth rotted.  There were only two crooked ones left in his head.  And since no one stopped him, Jack was sure he could live his life just as he pleased.  He even began stealing.

One night when the silver moon tore a crescent into the blackened sky, Jack stole the last coins from his mother’s purse.  “Better to buy treats for me than milk for my family.”  He said with a grin.  The next morning, he put his arms through his book bag, picked up his lunch bag filled with healthy foods his mom had made and headed for school.  But just as Jack reached the corner of his street, he turned left and snuck off to a sweet-shop to buy frosted frogs and gummy worms.  “No school for me,” he snickered and took off for a clearing in the woods to fill his belly.  Jack was so busy stuffing his pie-hole; he hadn’t noticed a goblin, by the name of Shamus, watching him from deep inside forest.  

That’s enough of my story for now.  Come to this very same spot next week and look for me, Deidra O’Dell, Queen of the Sheanchaithe-which by the way is an excellent word to look up!