JH Senior

Doreen doesn’t worry about pumpkin thieves. As soon as she puts a pumpkin outside, it snows and the gourd freezes to the ground.

On my last night in Arkansas I was having dinner with my son and his lovely wife, happy as a tick on a fat dog, eating grilled artichokes with a tangy sauce, a dish I plan to duplicate soon in my home kitchen.

Grilling the artichokes requires boiling of the vegetable till they’re tender. Once it’s cool, quarter the choke, remove fuzzy bits and rub in tangy stuff. Place the quarters on a greasy flaming grill until sizzling.

There’s nothing like an open restaurant kitchen and funny Southern expressions to keep me amused — and I was amused and very happy until I heard the news. Bad news that traveled faster than a coonhound on his way to the pork chop factory.

While dining I heard from our waiter, who heard from a cook, who heard from his auntie that a fifth generation Arkansan farm family grew a very successful crop of several thousand pumpkins. The 66-year-old farmer was very proud. He’d tried growing pumpkins the past two years and failed. This year was a success until some crumbs got into the field under the light of a full moon and made off with thousands of pumpkins.

What the heck? Who ever did this had a heart like a thumpin’ gizzard.

I am pained for this farmer and yet simultaneously filled with wonder with regard to who exactly would be interested in several thousand black market pumpkins. I imagine some slime bag lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut driving a semi filled with pumpkins to an isolated area where this maniacal demon thief could execute a plan to erect his own personal pumpkin cottage.

I shudder every time I think of it. No pumpkin thief deserves his own little pumpkin cottage.

Just a few years ago kids stole a few pumpkins in Cottonwood Park and later smashed them. Parents were involved, police maybe. I imagine restitution was made. Pumpkin heists are wrenching to the core. From what I can tell the Arkansas pumpkin robbery is not an isolated incident.

Some time ago out on Long Island, New York, hundreds of pumpkins were stolen from an out-of-the-way 36-acre field.

“Somebody’s on a rampage,” one resident claimed.

“Obviously, it’s someone who is selling them,” Detective Timothy Hubbard of the Riverhead police told The New York Post.

It was unknown how much the pumpkins might be worth on the black market.

I myself will never buy cheap pumpkins from a dubious looking stranger.

“Wanna buy a pumpkin, ma’am?” I imagine him saying.

“I don’t buy pumpkins from strangers,” I’d reply.

I only buy pumpkins at the Jackson Elementary School PTO Pumpkin Sale on Town Square. I want to know where my pumpkins come from, gosh darn it.

I love pumpkins. Who doesn’t? Well, party poopers, that’s who.

Would you believe that in the late 19th century horticulturists said growing commercial pumpkins was a waste.

“It is about time that pumpkins were retired from service and entered upon the fossil list,” read the Horticulturalist Journal of 1870.

Suffice it to say, Americans loved their pumpkins. Even though it may have been an old-fashioned way to make a living off the land, American citizens at that time were experiencing widespread growth, erection of skyscrapers and construction of railroads, were becoming surrounded by a wealth of material goods. Still they embraced their old-fashioned pumpkins.

As Halloween approaches, beautifully carved pumpkins will sit illuminated on steps and decks, at risk to debauchery when swathed in shadowy darkness.

I myself don’t fret about pumpkin pirates. When I place my pumpkins at my front door each year it invariably rains and snows, thereby flash freezing them in place until spring thaw.

I am a master carver of frozen pumpkins utilizing artistry, gloves and several well-sharpened jigsaws. After Halloween I simply cover the pumpkins with mounds of snow, making them invisible to the naked eye.

I don’t worry about lowly thugs out pumpkining, no siree. However the residents of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, are not so fortunate.

Beginning in 1969 two pumpkin thieves and a friend with a dump truck stole 69 pumpkins from the Chagrin Falls townsfolk. The heinous act happened again and again, always culminating with a pumpkin roll down a steep hill.

Last year the Chagrin High School class of 2018 rolled 2,300 pumpkins, the largest estimated to weigh 776.5 pounds. Egg-suckin’ dawgs, they could have grilled that pumpkin along with some artichokes and made a fine creamy artichoke and pumpkin soup.

Doreen Tome embraces seasonal cooking using only the finest pumpkins. Contact her via columnists@jhnewsandguide.com.

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