Jack O'Lantern: The First Halloween Pumpkin (PART II)


Here’s the rest of our spook-tacular tale:

Goblins are greedy, but not very interested in sweets. They prefer cash. It drove Shamus half-mad that Jack had already spent his money on junk food. “There are lots of mean-goblin ways to make Jack suffer,” Shamus said to himself as he conjured up a particularly hair-raising one. Luckily, goblins aren’t very bright and while they possess magical powers, they also have weaknesses. Like most ignorant creatures, they’re scared stiff of knowledge. Goblins are so frightened of learning that they freeze solid in one spot whenever they come across a teachable moment. Shamus was a particularly ignorant creature with a second weakness that was even worse: He didn’t think of the consequences of his actions.

So without a thought in his moldy-green head and no fear of kingdom come, Shamus commanded the wind to lift Jack high into the air till the poor lad’s feet dangled over the tree tops. Then, with the stinkiest goblin breath ever, Shamus snarled, “I don’t care a piffle that you bully and steal or even that you break your mother’s heart, but I want what I want. If you don’t bring me money, I’ll take off your head.”  

Now, Jack may have been awful, but he was quite clever. He used his sweetest voice to convince the goblin. “I know where there’s a pot of gold. If you stay hidden in the top branches till I return, I’ll bring it to you.”  

While Shamus twiddled his bony green thumbs, Jack climbed down the tree to take his homework assignments, pocket knife and glue stick from his book bag. As quick as he could, he carved the multiplication table onto the tree trunk. Then he glued hand-outs of the Preamble to the Constitution, and Act III scene I of Julius Caesar to the bark for good measure “Try and get me now.” Jack taunted the old goblin.  

When Shamus looked down on all that math, history and beautiful English, he began to freeze.   His toes, usually plump and the color of pond scum began to ice up. Slush coated the gunk under his toenails and soon his scaly knees were covered in hoarfrost. Unfortunately Shamus had one last trick up his chilly goblin-sleeve, he was a good liar. “I may be frozen and in a tree, but even with one hand tied behind my back, I can still have your head, Jack!” Of course, this wasn’t true and if Jack had spent more time in school instead of sweetshops, he would have been smart enough to run away. 

Instead, he made an offer to Shamus, “Let’s cut a deal,” he said. “I’ll take down my homework if I can keep my head.”  

Just as Jack peeled off the last page, Shamus, defrosted and angry as a hornet, scooted down the tree. “Don’t you know you can’t deal with the Devil? On the anniversary of this day, for all eternity, you’re doomed to walk the earth without your head, Jack O’Lantern! I’ll replace it with a big round pumpkin, but I’ll leave that two-tooth grin of yours just for spite.”  

Jack began to cry. It surely would have melted his mother’s heart to hear his plaintive sobs, but since goblins’ hearts are only used to pump their green blood, Shamus wouldn’t remove the curse.  

“But how will I find my way home with a pumpkin head?” Jack sobbed.  

“What do I care?” Shamus kicked Jack’s book bag high into the air till it upturned. A stale stick of gum and a penny fell to the grass. Quick as he could, Jack snatched the penny. “It’s so dark in my pumpkin head, will you trade me some light for my last coin?”

Goblins don’t do much for a penny. A burning candle nib was all Shamus supplied. And to this day, Jack- o-lantern roams the earth every October 31st, with candlelight pouring from his carved head that’s especially bright between his two front teeth.

And that’s an absolutely, positively true story, or my name isn’t Deidra O’Dell! Have a happy Halloween but remember; don’t eat unwrapped treats, only go to houses you know, and don’t believe everything you read.


Have a treasure hunt for new vocabulary words; roam, nib, goblin, plaintive, snatch, twiddled, hoarfrost, piffle, consequence, crescent, shimmering, respectable and others.

Do an on-line search for new terms; Sheanchaithe, Preamble to the Constitution, **Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.  **-Act III scene i has the famous line-Beware the Ides of March

Jack’s multiplication table helped him escape Shamus the Goblin—Try to memorize the table.

Research the history of Halloween.  

Offer a lesson on the differences between faith and superstition.

For the littlest readers: Get out your green markers and paper and let their imaginations conjure up Shamus! 

Author’s note:  Halloween is a secular holiday in America. While always popular, it made its biggest impact in the 1950’s when the burgeoning middle class was thriving after WWII. New and established Americans of different faiths were delighted to live in an abundant and generous country that enabled them to give away treats.