10 May 2020, 6:46am

Comments Off on Cornucopia: My Mon, The Pumpkin-Head

Cornucopia: My Mon, The Pumpkin-Head

My Mom, The Pumpkin-Head

By Kate Chamberlin


After being graduated from college with my teaching degree, I lived at home and taught Third Grade for two years at the Gidney Avenume Memorial School, Newburgh, NY. My Mother, a high school graduate with six months of Secretarial School experience, and avid crossword aficionado, became my at home, unofficial aide.

She thrived on grading the various math papers, spelling tests and short essays. It freed up time for me to research new ways to teach more in-depth for the faster students, techniques to encourage those who needed more time to grasp concepts, and to write lesson plans. Mom would give me a complete run-down on each student’s homework, to keep me up to speed on which student needed a little more assistance in which areas.

My Third Grade students were awesome. When it came time for us to present a program for the whole elementary school, we incorporated our usual studies of math, science, art, and much more into a space skit, written by the students. It had dialogue, science and humor and lots of stage lighting effects. They closed the program with a wonderful presentation of “Doe, A Deer”, complete with children popping up when they sang out their tone and scooching down until it was their turn again.

Mother, of course, attended the performance and I introduced her to them. One of the memorable comments I heard was, “Miss Holmberg has a Mother?”

Apparently, I appeared too old to still have a mother!  Mother felt quite flattered.

When Halloween came around, my parents and I planned a mini-haunted house for our trick-or-treaters to experience in my home. I let the students and their parents know about the special event, so we expected a good turn out to our Balmville home.

Our modern home had been built on a small portion of a much larger estate. The family in the manor house had a male and a female Rhodesian Razorback hounds. A breed that was originally used to hunt lions. We’d had some run-ins with those two dogs ganging up on our friendly Golden Retriever, Nicky. We had no idea how the  Rhodesian Razorbacks might re-act to ghosts, goblins, and hobos.  We kept a sharp eye out for the dogs, but, fortunately, they must have been penned in for the night. It did manage to add some tension to the evening, though.

The weather was perfect for our many visitors. Mom would direct them to go around to the back of our home, where they’d enter via the laundry room door. Walk down a short hallway with creepy things and odd sounds  to enter our family room. When I heard them turn right to go past the tent, under which I was hiding, I rattled chains and moaned a horrible sound.

That made them hurry toward the front exit door, however, they first had to go passed the closed door to the basement. When my colleague heard them near, he’ pound and scratch the door, begging to be let out. More than once, we heard someone say, “Ooh, I gotta pee!”

In the front vestibule, Mom would give them their candies as they went out the front door.

I should tell you that my Mom really threw herself into the Halloween project. She cut off the bottom of a large pumpkin, scooped out the innards, and carved a face into it. She put a folded towel on her head, then, lowered the pumpkin over her face. She wore a black turtle neck sweater, black slacks, and her signature three-inch spiked heels. Voila! Madam Pumpkin-head as your Halloween hostess.

Needless to say, the evening was a smashing success. All my students were talking about Miss Holmberg’s haunted house and the Pumpkin-Head Lady!

Thanks, Mom. You’re the best!

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