THE LOST ART OF PUMPIN CARVING...*
Last year I found out there was a major offering of pumpkins on the back roads here in the Hamptons--there were farm stands and little pumpkin patches that the local farmers were selling pumpkins from and these were the most beautiful, big orange pumpkins you will ever see.
One farmer, though, went to the extra effort of hiring someone who was well known for carving pumpkins; he would carve faces in them as they were sold to a child or adult---These pumpkins were the most wonderful works of art and I swore I would come back this year and have him carve my pumpkin for me!
Now, My heart was literally beating like crazy--how neat is this going to be? I will have a fabulous Pumpkin made especially for me--I can tell the pumpkin carver sort of how I want it to look and he will do his best!
So, there I went, heading past the pond and farm fields and over the bridge toward the crowds along the highway and I could care less about any traffic jams...
A VERY, VERY HAPPY CROWD WAS WAITNG TO GET INTO THE PUMPKIN FIELDS AT HANKS...
His name was Frank and he had been doing the pumpkin carving at Hanks stand for over 10 years; every kid in the Hampton’s knew him—the better they knew Frank the better chance they would have of getting a truly unusual carving—he used his best judgment and he never disappointed!
As I drove down Head of Pond Road in Water Mill, I saw a sign: “HANKS” and an arrow that pointed out toward the highway. I always stay away from the highway all summer long because of the trafic. So this September I decided that I would check out the pumpkins where Frank worked, right out there beside the busy highway---There were hundreds of cars slowly driving past the fields of pumpkins; there were even more parked alongside the road. You really don’t ever want to get caught in the Pumpkin traffic at this time of year, but I had a mission!
I felt the excitement of having Frank carve a pumpkin for me.
"Frank knows me now” I said to myself…I could just about feel the same excitement that a kid feels when it comes time to step up to the table in the field of pumpkins and hand the best pumpkin in the patch to Frank. “Here Frank; I hope you carve me a really good one this year!”
If you go to all of the pumpkin stands here in the Hamptons, you will find over 20 of them; none is as interesting and as much fun as Hank’s Pumpkin stand.
Hank has it down to a science: rides, castles, slides and as many pumpkins as you can imagine all lined up waiting for your selective search for the best pumpkin in the patch! He even hired Frank to be his Pumpkin Carver because of his reputation with the kids!
This year I went looking for Frank who had carved those most wonderful faces on the pumpkins—I can see him now, in my minds eye: He would quickly carve away and then hand the carved pumpkin to the patient little hands and the kids would scream with excitement as they all looked it over, raving at the detail and the way the carving made the pumpkin come to life!
I looked again down the long line of pumpkins, all the way to the front of the field…I was looking for the old blue metal bench that Hank would be standing behind---and there would be a long line of kids, waiting.
There were no kids. They must have been told to wait somewhere else!
So, now as I go to the very back of the pumpkin field and I looked toward the road I saw all the rows of picked pumpkins lined up, waiting to be selected.
I saw the blue bench at the end of the long pumpkin line....no kids!
And I could not find Frank.
I looked and looked again; I saw his work bench; no Frank!
I found out later from the man at the old bench that he was gone—Frank had not survived the cold hard winter....
A LOST ART
It seems that Frank became ill over the winter and got pneumonia. His wife told the man at the Pumpkin Bench that He died in the early spring and had left nothing of his great talent of face carving---all the pumpkins that he had carved over the years were given to the children who came here just for him---the most beautiful carvings you could ever imagine! I did get a few photos of those faces---they were very quickly whisked away to the trunk of a nearby car and were never to be viewed again, at least by me! So my meager collection of photos is all that is left of this man’s craft!
I saw the carving table, where so many years of pumpkin carving took place….Empty, and sad….the most dreary feeling came over me. I would never have that feeling of looking into the Pumpkin face carved by Frank, specifically for me!
What a shame---the lost art of pumpkin carving! I needed to leave then; I was a grown woman—it would not do for me to burst into tears.
I did see tears though; there were two little boys who had been standing near the table. They had just been told that Frank was not there anymore and they would not get their treasured pumpkins carved this year…
What a shame!
*Note: This is a work of fiction but based upon an actual Pumpkin Farm called "HANKS" here in the Hamptons. The character called Frank is from my childhood--someone who lived in a little town in Michigan, where I grew up. I found out the last time I went home to visit my brother that this pumpkin carver had died and I had a very sad feeling that I had never gone to him to have him carve me a pumpkin; now I never would be able to.
In childhood we have so very few things that stimulate our imaginations as much as those characters who did things for us....this one is indelibile in my mind and I love sharing it with all of you!
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