The Pumpkin Giant
Mary E. Wilkins, from the book, The Lost Half Hour by Eulalie Steinmetz Ross,
Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc NY c1963
Adapted for oral presentation by Maxine J. Bersch.
The first time I told this was at St. Andrews school library, in Richmond, VA. To a third and fourth grade audience. The librarian sent me a note along with their letters and said they were still laughing and talking about it. That was many years ago, when I used to go down there once a week to the third and fourth grades. I don’t know why she only had me for those two grades. I was rather new to public storytelling in those days and I just went because I had a call from the story league that they needed someone, and would I go, so I went for quite a while.
This story is very tellable, but has to be adapted for telling. I have taken the liberty of putting it into storytelling form, as near the way I tell it as I can make it, I use this song with the autoharp and then I tell the story. This song I learned from my two older sisters, Irene and Clementine who sang it as they washed the dishes and I helped
THE LONE PUMPKIN
Oh, a lone pumpkin grew on a green pumpkin vine,
He was large,– he was fat,– he was yellow!
“No silly Jack-o-lantern shall I make,” he said,
I’m determined I shall be a useful fellow!”
Refrain: For the glory of the Jackie is the candle
From the gatepost where he grins, set up so high,
And the glory of the turkey is the drumstick,
But the glory of the pumpkin is the pie!
So he raised up his head as the cook came around
And she chose him at once as the winner!
His fondest wish came true! He was proud pumpkin pie!
And the glory of the big Thanksgiving dinner!
For the glory of the Jackie is the candle
From the gatepost where he grins, set up so high!
And the glory of the turkey is the drumstick!
But the glory of the pumpkin is the pie!
Now for the story. The Pumpkin Giant. Where there are boldened letters or capitals, this is where the storyteller has all the fun. In a story like this, from the moment you open your mouth, they know they are in for a fun time. The tone of voice is jolly—the way you string your words out, “A looooong time ago, looooooong before your grandma’s time, there were noooooo pumpkins. AaaaaaaND, that was when the PUMPKIN GIANT LIVED, and believe you me! Etc etc. They know you are telling a whopper.
A long time ago, long before your grandma’s time, there were no pumpkins. And that was when the Pumpkin Giant lived and believe you me! That was one wicked giant. You have heard all kinds of giant stories, but I am telling you right now that the Pumpkin Giant was the scariest one of all! He had everybody scared to death of him because he was so terrible. You know that giants were tall—but this giant was taller than any giant that you ever saw.. He had a humongous round yellow head all smooth and yellow, and his eyes GLOWED like coals of fire in his head, and his mouth stretched half way around his head! It was fitted with two rows of sharp pointed teeth, and the Pumpkin Giant was never known to hold it anyway but WIDE OPEN!
He lived in a castle away up on top of a high hill, and all around it was a moat. Not a moat with water, like most castles, NO! His moat was filled with bones! All I have to say about those bones is, they were not mutton bones, or beef bones, or even chicken bones! The Pumpkin Giant was fonder than anything else in the world of little boys and girls, and FAT little boys were his favorite dish!
The fear and terror of the Pumpkin Giant spread all over the country, so everybody , even the King on his throne had the GIANT SHAKES! (Here I always do a giant shake from side to side and the audience loves it, but don’t overdo—quickly go into the story) The king had to have his throne propped up to keep it from falling over when he had a spell of the giant shakes! The reason he was scared was that the Princess Diana, his daughter, was so fat that for the first 12 years of her life she never walked a step, but had to just go rolling around the gardens ! Yes, with her cloth of gold rolling suit, her glittering crown tied on her head, she went rolling up and down the royal rose gardens. She had 50 soldiers to guard her, but even then the King was worried, because it was known that the Pumpkin Giant was now being known as the Hungry Ole Giant because he took a tonic to make him have an even bigger appetite.
The King issued a proclamation! Yes! The heralds went forth with the horn—(blow on an imaginary horn) “Hear ye! Hear Ye! The King will knight the man who can cut off the Pumpkin Giant’s head.” Straightway all of the men began to think of ways he could get close enough to that Pumpkin Giant to cut off his head. The problem was that they all had the Giant Shakes so bad that even if they got close enough they could not hold the sword steady enough to whack off his head! What a PREDICAMENT! (I use this word when I have a chance because children Love it! they love words and they don’t care what the meaning is—they love the sound of them. This is a favorite one.)Then I add—ABSOLUTELY! Another one of their favorites. You will hear them mutter, “Absolutely!”
One old man lived close to the Giant’s castle, and he had a potato farm. His son was fatter than the Princess Diana! DEFINITELY. Can you imagine the unhappiness in that house? They couldn’t afford 50 soldiers to guard their boy. The mother had the Giant Shakes so bad that she had to go to bed and stay there. The boy’s name was Aeneas, the father’s name was Patroclus, and the mother’s name was Daphne. One morning Patroclus and Aeneas were out in the field digging up potatoes. I should say Patroclus was digging the potatoes, while Aeneas was rolling around in the potato field. SUDDENLY THEY FELT THE EARTH TREMBLE, and there came the giant with his mouth wide open, his eyes glowing like coals of fire! He was almost on them, and Patroclus said, “Get behind me, Aeneas!” He rolled behind his father, but still his fat cheeks were sticking out on either side, and the Pumpkin Giant was getting closer and closer.
Patroclus was not usually a brave man, but he was brave in an emergency and that’s when it counts. (Look each child in the eye as you say that.) When the Giant was right there in front of them, he picked one of his largest potatoes and threw it with all his might, right at the Giant’s big wide open mouth! The Giant clutched his throat, choked, gasped and stretched out there in the field, very, very still.
Patroclus ran in the house and Aeneas rolled right in behind him. Daphne stopped shaking and got out of bed for the first time in two years! They watched the giant from the window, and he just lay there , so they thought he must be dead. Patroclus sharpened the carving knife and they all went out to the field to cut off the head of the Pumpkin Giant. Sure enough, he was as dead as a mackerel and they cut his head off and gave it to Aeneas to play with. Wow! He was one happy boy to have that big giant’s head to play with! He rolled all around the potato field with it and all the other boys hung over the fence and watched with envy.
One day, though, he rolled over on it and smashed it all to pieces! That Giant’s head went flying here, there and yonder all over in every nook and corner, and green vines started growing all over where the pieces fell. Then in the fall there were yellow Giant’s heads on the vines, hundreds of them!!
The people got the shakes all over again! What if the heads grew bodies and became hundreds of giants?!!But after a while the excitement died down and nothing happened. The Giants heads grew larger and larger and yellower and yellower, and one day, that FAT Little Aeneas couldn’t stand it any longer—he just had to see how they tasted! So he snuck out with the carving knife, cut a piece out of one of the heads and tasted it. Wow! “That is good!” he rolled his eyes and cut another piece and finally finished off that head and went in the house to get some medicine.
“Give me some medicine! I have eaten a whole Giant’s head!” “Look what you have done! I don’t have any medicine to cure you now! No Giant Head medicine! You will surely die!” She began to cry, Aeneas began to cry, then Patroclus came in and heard the news and he began to cry! But Aeneas did not die! So finally, when they saw he was not dead they said, “How did it taste?” “It was delicious!” So they brought one in, and Daphne said, “I’m going to make it into a pie!” She mixed it up with milk, eggs, sugar and spices and made a pie!
NOW, YOU TALK ABOUT SOMETHING GOOD! They ate the whole pie and baked another one right away. Then every day they had to have more giant’s head pie! Of course, you and I call them pumpkin pies. And one day the King was riding by and smelled all those pumpkin pies baking. “What in the world?” He went riding up to the house and they brought a pie out for him to taste. When he tasted that pumpkin pie, he almost fell off of his horse! He suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to knight Patroclus when he cut off the giant’s head! He leaned down at that very minute and knighted Patroclus.
Then Sir Patroclus went with the king back to the palace along with Lady Daphne. They uprooted all the roses and planted pumpkins in their place. Then it was Patroclus who was the head gardener and Lady Daphne baked the pies. You can guess that Aeneas rolled around with Princes Diana and ate pumpkin pies.!!OH YES! Finally they were married and it took fifty archbishops to perform the marriage. The newspapers all said there had never been such a well matched couple as the two of them when they rolled down the aisle after the ceremony, and, naturally, with nothing but pumpkin pies to eat they lived happily forever after!