Sunday, October 23, 2005

Item from the Past: The Pumpkin Drop

Background: I co-hosted a “harvest dinner party” at my apartment on October 22, 1988, a mix of my friends and friends of my friend Becky, the other host (she didn’t live with me, my apartment was merely convenient).

The first thing Nate said to me when he came in was that he had a surprise waiting for me in his car. “Bigger than a breadbasket?” I asked, the stock question coming from me effortlessly. He thought a moment and said, “If you put them all together, yes.”

About 30 minutes later, long after I’d forgotten, in the rush of things, that a surprise was coming, I heard Nate and Kevin and Lee huffing in, two big burlap sacks in tow, which they took to the room at the south end of my apartment. Nate upended one of the sacks. A dozen garden pumpkins tumbled out. Pumpkins make a curious thump as they hit a hardwood floor, a sound I expect my downstairs neighbors couldn’t fathom.

These were the pumpkins Nate and I had planted in his garden in Warrenville in April, the last of the vegetable crop for this year. Some of the guests took one or two home, but the kids at the party put them to more immediate use. Jonathan was rolling ’em around and Ella hoisted one overhead and carried it around like a water jug.

Once, I picked up one of the pumpkins by its stem. The stem broke. The pumpkin landed on its side and rolled toward Lee, who was in the room. He stepped aside, but the pumpkin turned and followed him. He moved again, but it still followed him, till it lightly tapped his foot. Giddy with beer and wine, everyone else thought this was a lot of laughs. Actually, so did Lee.


At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm fairly sure that the original expression was "Is it bigger than a breadbox." It was a frequent, rather jocular, query on the game show What's My Line in the 50's and 60's. You may recall that we actually had a breadbox at one time - mother may still have it - made of tin or aluminum, painted white, I think, but with a copper-coloured door in the front, possibly labelled "BREAD." I would think a breadbasket - if you mean the sort of thing that rolls come in restaurants - would be a somewhat smaller. ANK


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