Pumpkin pies’ political past

By Caryl Clem

Before English colonists traveled the high seas to land on American shores, pumpkins were used as a vegetable.  In a Native American cookbook, Spirit of the Harvest by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs a recipe features baking a variety of savory seasonings with meat and rice inside the pumpkin.  As early as 1651 a French chef published a recipe for Tourte of Pumpkin in his cookbook that was republished in England in 1653. Wealthy landowner’s wives baked pumpkin treats. Farm wives stewed sliced pumpkins and apples together with molasses. The first Dutch lawyer who owned land in New England documented his opinion that the North American pumpkin was sweeter and more delicious. The Native Americans believed sharing meals together was a sign of peace and community, sharing the pumpkins with colonists was a sign of goodwill.

An orphan colonial woman was able to publish the first American woman authored cookbook.  The recipes were written in a different format than the English version and included a new vocabulary for cooking terms. American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, in 1796 showed she was a genius combining specific step by step instructions, patriotic terms for dishes like Election Cake and meals for larger budgets and servings. She blended the emerging American culture into her recipes: created the first leavening agents that lead to baking powders, used the staple of corn meal to replace the English pasties dough, and introduced the terms shortening, cookie, and slapjacks. Her cookbook provided an American culinary identity and a way to spread patriotic pride in the new countr

In 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale, an abolitionist campaigned to make Thanksgiving a National Holiday. In her novel, Northwood the pumpkin pie portrayed as a most distinguished dish to serve at this meal.  Another abolitionist wrote the poem about the traditional journey to Grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving.  Released in 1842 by Lydia Maria Child, “Over the River and through the wood ended with a shout, hurra for the pumpkin pie. “ Instant recognition and fame spread as it appeared in children’s stories and articles in agricultural journals advising the benefits of eating pumpkins.  In 1828 a cookbook was published by popular Eliza Leslie that featured the pumpkin pie custard we eat today. The pumpkin was cooked; strained then eggs, butter, sugar and spices were added. This mixture was poured on top of a pastry shell with strips of pastry laid across the top. When Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday in 1863, the members of the Confederacy in Virginia proclaimed it was a Yankee move to impose Yankee customs in the South. Taste buds finally won the political war as the love of pumpkin pie spread across the country.  In 1929, Libby first released canned pumpkin filling that became the answer to easy pumpkin pie baking.

After checking the top pie sales across the nation, Pumpkin ranked first, followed by Apple in a heated second.  National Pumpkin Pie Day is Christmas Day, Dec 25:  I am not waiting that long to celebrate this wonderful taste of fall.

Happy Halloween

For me as a Mom in the 1990’s in Downers Grove, it began when my son was only two and hated being a clown. That’s because the face Mom had painted on his delicate skin was way too scary for Halloween. He scared himself when he looked in the mirror and trick or treating was just out of the question. But it did get better especially when he was some sort of car robot with a mask and my daughter was a princess with her best friend as a cat…still a best friend today (above/color picture). As my son and daughter celebrated the season each year, costume decisions improved to include Robin Hood and a court jester, a baby. a Power Ranger instead of Super Man and a nerd with a huge dictionary….not a computer… Though there was one Halloween, that costumes were trash bags since the rain was incessant for trick or treating. That didn’t stop us. We also decided that a carved pumpkin was not enough so the house was dressed with lovely rust and yellow floral arrangements and a yard filled with ghosts, signs, funny gravestones, and spider webs throughout.

And the neighborhood was packed with children trick or treating; knowing the adults that answered their doors. If we didn’t have an appropriate trick or treat bag, a pillow case would do and besides the candy bars, suckers and Bazooka gum with comics, we would get even more like a popcorn ball. Sometimes we would worry about the occasional razor blade showing up in our candy but candy being spiked with chemicals was rare.

Now, though there are no grandchildren, I am assistant in a grade school and there is nothing more fun than watching the fabulous costumes, parties and parades every year. They continue to knock on the door, same door, on October 31st, 2021. Though the signs have become faded and the gravestones totter, new additions such as a family of scarecrows have been added, floral arrangements refurbished and my 30 plus daughter coming to spend a pre-Halloween weekend, carving the best pumpkin ever, while munching on roasted pumpkin seeds and home-made pumpkin bread.

Once a child, forever a child and another year of adding more pictures to that scrapbook or should I say, Facebook page instead.

The Other Side

By Caryl Clem

When Halloween approached, I was one of the first kids to ask for a “ ghost story”.  Kids succumbed to magical powers by a person or animal who acts like your long lost friend.  I imagined myself outside the protection of my family. I became  a moving target for evil forces: a fear that quenched exploration of the other side for years.

Later in college dorm life, peer majority exploring mystical forces opened the door to the Ouija Board. I sat huddled in my room with friends who wanted to invite spirits to guide us. A blessing was uttered to protect us against the evil spirits. My turn came, I asked to speak to the spirit of my birth father. I was adopted, had no idea who he was The message spelled out, PLANE DOWN.  I had had dreams of him in a uniform. When cold air  rushed through the room and almost detached my closet door from its’ hinges. Fear was like frostbite chasing my friend back to their rooms.  I gave the board away. Today’s reflection, did it really happen? Over 50 years later a contact through Ancestry said my father was in the service but never came back to marry his girl.   My birth mother went to a unwed mothers’  sanctuary.  

Switching schools while attending college, I lived by a city cemetery. A  new friend who lived across the driveway during an open  window  conversation one night said,” There is a rumor that a ghost appears above this headstone every year. Do you want to check it out.  We can meet at 11:40  p.m. and walk there to see.” I have nothing else to do that night being too old to trick or treat.  I reply, “ Let’s do it !”

I had never climbed over a gated fence before or felt so vulnerable. Getting out would be just as hard. It is near midnight on Halloween while a friend and I walk towards the gravestone. Glistening fear on my neck.  Within a few minutes mist is swirling by the site turning into a gowned woman twirling. I had reacted, “ Let’s get out of here. “  I was running chased by a cool breeze. Once over the fence, I feel a sense of quiet and calm. I was too afraid to look back to see if the mist disappeared.

I lived in my Grandmother’s last residence built by an aging contractor who told my father, “ This is my last job.” I loved the quaint cottage style dwelling. I prayed for blessings as I moved in, young, ready for my life’s journey. My hairbrush traveled without my help. It could be resting on the kitchen counter,  or on the stove , or in the refrigerator. It was part of a set that was parked on my vintage dresser. A ritual every morning, brush your hair to life. I often searched for the hairbrush mumbling, “ Thanks for watching over me, I need to brush my hair now.” Guided by an unknown force, I would find the hairbrush and carry on with my day.I live on this side but unexplained forces exist.  

Put forth blessings for all of us facing the day in front of us, no matter what side you are on. 

Brachs

Another Chicago original to celebrate National Candy Month! And it was the candy corn celebrated at Halloween that I enjoyed the best as a child. Brach’s candy corn is still the  best selling candy in the US today. I also remember the conversation hearts known as Sweethearts candy passed out at Valentines Day as well as Jelly Bird eggs at Easter. For my children, it was Jolly Ranchers that was my son’s favorite. The company was founded by Emil Brach in 1904 located at the corner of North Avenue and Town Street in Chicago.With a 1,000 investment, he named it “Brach’s Palace of Sweets” and employed his two sons to help.

Emil started with one kettle. Investing in additional equipment he was able to lower his production costs and sell his candy for 20 cents per pound. According to Wikipedia,by 1911, his production had reached 50,000 pounds per week and his first product was caramels. In 1913, Brachs developed the first candy factory and a second factory in 1921. In the late 1940’s an explosion happened killing many but Brachs continued on building a state of the art facility, becoming the largest candy manufacturer in the world.

One of the sons was 75 years old when he sold the company in 1966. Bertram Johnson bought the company in 1980 and moved its headquarters  but it started to decline and he bought Brochs Candy Company and merged the two which brought on new products. In 2003, Barry Callebaut AG purchased the new company. As part of the deal, Barry Callebaut agreed to assume $16 million in debt, fund restructuring efforts for 5 years and paid a symbolic $1 (one dollar) for the company.

In 2007, the company was sold to the Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company, which in turn merged with the Ferrara Pan Candy Company in 2012 to form the Ferrara Candy Company, based in Chicago, moving its headquarters here in 2019.

Which Witch??

By Caryl Clem:

From the earliest Greek and Roman myths and legends, servants to these gods and goddesses were witches of either gender. For example, Italy’s witch, Aradia, daughter of Diana the moon goddess and Lucifer, is sent to local people to teach magic to improve their lives against tyranny and poverty and crushing authority. She is beautiful and images of her show long hair, youthful facial features and flowing gowns.

Witches were the superwomen and super nannies before Christianity. Every king wanted his military power restored after a defeat, advice on spells to guide his path with competing powers, and a home based safeguard for his children for a few hundred years.

After seeing a picture of the Princess Anne of Denmark, King James of Scotland proposed.  King James VI spent time in Denmark with his new wife observing the witch hunts and witchcraft trials during a time when over 1,000 witches were burned. A Lutheran bishop, Peder Palladius, is accusing any woman who acts as a Catholic to be a witch.  King James and wife faced life threatening storms traveling home. He blamed his misfortune on witchcraft. He sought counsel and was advised to eliminate any witch who could be a threat to the community His own witch hunting and trials forced confessions by torture. He published James VI and I’s book on the subject of witchcraft, Daemonologie, published in 1597.

Germany and France were purging devil witches by the thousands.  According to Suzanne Lipscomb in her book on witches, one town in Germany was left with no woman. According to records, over 40,000 were executed.  The hysteria spreads overseas to America in New Salem, Massachusetts.  The trials suddenly cease when the name of the wife of a governor is given as a witch.

Since the late 1800’s, witch images are shown flying through the skies on brooms with wide brimmed hats. Again, witches represent mystery and magic.  Post cards and nursery tales show old woman with unpredictable powers to change lives. Several male authors have published guides explaining and disclosing spells and witchcraft magic such as Gerald Garner and Aleister Crowley.  A new era of witches is born going back to natural and lunar influences.  A religion based on harmony and doing no harm by witches is recognized in 1986 as WICCA.  Present WICCA is a nature based spiritual movement with both male and female witches spread through several sects.

The boiling cauldron with women in a peaked brimmed hat and a cat in the doorway were beer brewers, another form of liquid magic. To indicate when a brew was ready, broomsticks would be placed in the doorways of alehouses. Images of frothing cauldrons full of ready product and six-sided stars to indicate the quality of the brew also abounded. Lastly, out of manifest necessity, cats would be kept in the brew houses to protect the grains from mice.” Interesting that in Latino and African cultures, the woman made brews. Brew Witches made high spirits available here on earth.  A witch can be anybody who practices mind over matter.

Quija Boards

When I was a pre-teen playing with my first board on the dining room table with friends, I would ask if I would marry and it always said yes. How right the board was! Would I have children, yes…true again. How many….I can remember four and I only have two. Trying to spell out what spirit was talking to us was always a difficult mess. We would get a letter or two but we were not quite bright enough to make a spiritual match from heaven. Would I be wealthy or rich? The planchett placed beneath our fingers would never say yes or no but sometimes good bye. Money in the bank today, I could claim,just enough, but for many, I am in rich in love, family, job and friends.

Sometimes, when the planchett was really moving across the board, we would get either scared and stopped playing or blame each other for pushing it in a desired direction. In some households, the game was not allowed because some religions felt it was demonic. My parents did not like the board…not sure how I had one…..friends may have brought their own game to play. It seemed to be used only for fun around Halloween or a sleep over. My own children were allowed to use a board during the Halloween season or a sleep over, but again, their group of friends got out of hand when it came to the movement of the planchett.

In 1886, the New York Daily Tribune reported on a new talking board being used in Ohio. It was 18 by 20 inches and featured the alphabet, numbers, and the words yes, no, good evening, and goodnight; the only other necessary object was a “little table three or four inches high … with four legs” that the spirits could use to identify letters. This table was called an Idometer and caused muscle movement or reflexes to move an object not a spirit visiting the household but the later thought took off in popularity.

In 1966, the Ouija boards were sold to Parker Brothers, which manufactured the modern boards as we know them today. In 1991, Parker Brothers was sold to Hasbro, which now holds all the Ouija rights and patents. Today, according to the Museum of Talking Boards  there is truly aa renaissance afoot. Hasbro, who currently owns Parker Brothers upped their game in 2008 by introducing a controversial pink version aimed at teen girls. Then in 2013, they stunned everyone by breaking tradition completely with a redesigned, much darker themed Ouija board equipped with a light up planchette that automatically illuminates hidden messages on the board.

Hollywood has jumped on the use of the board in movies and television. Ouija is a 2014 American supernatural horror film that was a huge success where young girls try to burn the board but it comes back to life.  Ouija: Origin of Evil came out in 2016; another American supernatural horror film. The film is a prequel to the 2014 film,grossing over $81 million.

Many talking board enthusiasts are creating public shows and events. While experts claim that there is nothing evil about the mystic board; many have assured customers  that it is just a game. I am, yet, to be convinced.

 

Chicagoland/Suburbs: More haunted theatres

The Biograph Theater, now known as the Victory Garden, was opened September 5, 1914. All 942 seats were on a single floor. This Lincoln Park neighborhood landmark is probably best known by Chicagoans as the place where John Dillinger was shot and killed on July 22, 1934 after attending a screening of “Manhattan Melodrama” starring Clark Gable. There are stories of people seeing a shadowy figure of a man running on the sidewalk, or heading for the alley. He runs, then falls and disappears, almost as if reenacting the shooting over and over again. Some feel that Dillinger was not shot but some believe it was a look alike. According to the Ghost Research Society, some people have even claimed to have photographed strange shadowy figures lurking in the alleyway, just steps from where Dillinger was killed.

Woodstock Opera HouseThe four story structure has been used for many years to host live performances of celebrities including launching the career of Orson Wells. The Woodstock Opera House, built in 1889, originally housed the library, city council, court, and fire department for the city of Woodstock, Illinois. The Opera House sat above on the second floor. According to Family Travel on a Budget, in the 1940s, Shelley Berman was working on scenery for a production. A loud noise in the seating area startled him. He scanned the room and noticed that several chairs in row DD were in the down position. He ran over to investigate, and when he arrived, all the seats were in their upright position. Berman shared his experience with other cast members, and a haunted legend was born. Many claim that the ghost is a young woman from the early 1900s that threw herself from the belfry of the opera house since she could not get a part and could not handle rejection.

Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford is an historic theater that opened on October 9th 1927; a grandiose movie palace and stage with a Barton Grand Theater pipe organ that hosted a number of celebrities and movies. With the support of the community, the theatre was re-stored in its original style in 2001. However, according to sources, paranormal groups have documented several ghosts at the theater, but the Van Matres, Louis St. Pierre, a manager, and Miss Kileen, a secretary, are the core spirits watching over the historic theater. Many have seen the ghost light, as they refer, during their visit. Besides attending events and shows at the theater, tours are available. Feel free to contact Coronado to plan your visit.

Rialto Square Theater opened in 1926 as an old vaudeville and movie palace in downtown Joliet. The grand space has been restored to its original beauty including an elegant rotunda and dome with amazing chandeliers throughout. The theatre is also home to a Barton Grand Theater pipe organ. Accidents have happened in the building including the balcony according to Haunted Houses who claim that staff and workmen have seen an apparition of a women floating around the theater. Apparentaly, she is more active after the the theater is closed to the public.  Visitors have also taken pictures and have seen strange figures in the photographs.

 

 

 

 

 

“Treat Your Boo” Event with Pet Costume Contest

Through the years, I have loved picking out Halloween yearly costumes for myself and my own children. Though, I never thought about dressing up the guinea pig we had for a short time and our cats. I assist in a kindergarten class and I wonder if they are going to dress up their favorite pets. Actually, we have a new kitten at home…she might look good in the lion costume. PetSmart is truly the place to share this Halloween holiday with your entire family. You can enjoy picking out ghoulish goodies, classic costumes, and spooky toys for your dog, cat or even your guinea pig.

Have you ever dressed up your guinea pig as a mermaid? What about serving your pets special Happy Halloween treats or have them hang out in their own haunted house? At PetSmart,the leading pet specialty retailer in North America, online and in stores, you will find a full range of costumes for small breeds plus large dog outfits. A variety of pet accessories are available that include different collars, bandannas, bows and hats as well as Halloween bedding.

Pet parents are invited to PetSmart stores nationwide for a “Treat Your Boo” event on Saturday, Oct. 26 from noon to 2 p.m. local time. Dogs will be able to learn tricks for treats, and pet parents can fill a treat bag for their pet, at PetSmart’s exclusive Trick or Treat stations. The party will feature a costume contest with awards for first, second and third place, plus a certificate for social media bragging rights.

To make those social media posts really shine, stores will offer photos with Chance the Mascot for pet parents to share with followers by tagging with #petsmartparties. For those who want to keep the pet Halloween party going, free yard signs will be available at the event letting neighbors know that dogs are invited to their homes to trick or treat on Halloween night.

And after asking a few in my kindergarten class if they were dressing up their pets, some said that their pets were going to be disguised as pumpkins. More pet parents and families are choosing costumes for their pets in celebration of Halloween as well as pets being included in birthdays, and all sorts of celebratory events.

What a perfect time right now to attend pet parades while sharing pet photos of this dress up event on social media. PetSmart truly enjoys helping pet families share their ultimate experiences of fun together.

How to save on all aspects of Halloween

Flipp App savings expert Lauren Gruetman provides tips on how to save on all aspects of Halloween. Below you’ll find her tips as well as a few local Chicago deals available now!
Savings Tips:Plan ahead to save big bucks on costumes. There are so many DIY costumes that you can make using items from Dollar Tree. I recommend using the Flipp App to search through the Dollar Tree circular to see what items are in their stores. You can easily make unicorn wings from a feather boa and fairy wings (both are found in the craft section). Use a dish towel and cut it up into a vest to make a cowboy vest. Think creatively around the items you can find there for inexpensive costumes.Candy is cheapest two weeks before Halloween as stores start putting them on sale. And check your local drug stores flyers for deals on Sundays, which is when new deals are sometimes released. You can also look at bulk stores like Costco and Sams Club, but steer away from the chocolate candy. Buy big packages of Airheads and Skittles for a cheaper price per oz.

*It’s possible to throw an epic party for under $40! Stick to the dollar stores for decorations and buy items that can be used from year to year. The days following Halloween are the best times to purchase large blow up items and other Halloween decor.

Watch for Fall Harvests. I find the cheapest pumpkins by driving around and purchasing them at local homes that have them out for sale. You will save a LOT of money and get a larger pumpkin for buying local.

The free Flipp app is available for IOS and Android. You can search weekly ads, coupons and navigate through your favorite stores. The app allows you to check out specific foods or browse a variety of retailers. Once you download the app and add your location, Flipp will locate the stores in your area and you can click on your favorite store to explore its best deals. You can tap a retailer, check out the coupons and load them to your loyalty cards. There are thousands of retailers available including Kroger, Walmart, Big Lots, CVS Pharmacy, Aldi’s, Family Dollar, Home Depot, Loews and Dicks Sporting Goods to name a few. You can even save money on your favorite and find deals at Petco.

Halloween Deals on Flipp in Chicago:
Candy:

Decor:

Costumes:

The Good Old Days: Halloween ghost stories

Back in the day without TV or the Internet, it was about talking, sharing and during the days of Halloween or camping outdoors, telling the best ghost stories. It was standing in front of a dark mirror with a candle at slumber parties….chanting I believe in Mary Worth. This ritual serves to summon the vengeful witch, Mary Worth. According to sources, Mary actually lived in Chicago on the old Wagon Road during the Civil War and it is said that she had kidnapped runaway slaves and chained them in her barn. Legend has it that she was burned at the stake. Some called her Bloody Mary and we summoned her many times at Halloween parties, but I never saw her.

Another famous story that can actually be documented over 200 years ago, is the Man with the Golden Arm. The Golden Arm is a folktale, a story appearing in multiple cultures but most most famously told by Mark Twain. The tale begins with a death or a recently deceased victim who has an artificial limb, usually an arm, made of gold. The victim has their limb stolen after their death, most often by a loved one or trusted one in greed. Then the victim comes back from the grave looking to get their golden limb back and scares the robber into giving back their arm. Where’s my golden arm????

My kids didn’t sit down and tell ghost stories unless they were camping out and they were bored. I got them with the golden arm story, though, and chased them around the house. Many learned telling stories during the series where a group of kids who gathered in the woods told ghost stories. This was performed on the 1990 – 1996 U.S. TV series “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” The series was a spooky anthology where a group of kids recounted ghost stories. I made a huge mistake back in the early 1990’s allowing my daughter to stay up with me to watch the original movie Night of the Living Dead. At that time, I was a sucker for the best horror stories in books and movies. She did have nightmares and still reminds me of this today.

According to child psychologists, it is ok for kids to be scared…..just a little. The following stories are some great examples to share.

The Lady with Emerald Ring actually is a story written in the late 1700’s and the woman dies but comes back to life.

The Scarecrow: A wonderful story about a young boy creating his own creepy scarecrow. Every year, his Dad puts out scarecrows in their fields because he thinks they’re effective in not only keeping the crows out, but evil spirits as well.  His Scarecrow changes during a storm.

Haunted is a great story about a ghosts who love to bake. Everyone in a small town in Arkansas knows this house is haunted. It was an old neglected house and sometimes would smell of bakery goods even though no one lived there. Sometimes they would hear the ghosts singing and dancing.

%d bloggers like this: