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Pumpkin Cake

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At about age 35 I decided that Halloween was my favorite holiday. We started having Halloween parties and things just took off. It was almost scary.

Whichever Saturday was closest to Halloween became the night of the Halloween party. Written invitations went out a month ahead. The RSVP’s came in. Usually there were at least 60 to 70 people in attendance.

After dark, the guests poured in. But even before they hit the front door they were part of the experience. We went all out to decorate the yard.

One of the most popular decoration themes for the yard was a graveyard. Each person in attendance at the party had a personal gravestone. In those days, you could not buy Halloween decorations like you can now. I had to make them. So each guest had a “gravestone” made out of neon poster paper. I bent coat hangers and taped them to the back to they would stand in the grass. Imagine a front lawn with 70 gravestones that suddenly pop up a few days before Halloween.

It got to be pretty funny. Neighbors told me they’d drive or walk by to see who was attending the party that year. They could tell just by walking by the front of the house and reading the gravestones.

One year there was a 20-foot high spider web spread up two stories to the top of a tree in our front yard. And of course, a giant spider. Every year the pumpkins we carved got more and more elaborate.


There was a party BEFORE the big party. That one was the one in which people volunteered to help decorate and cook so we could feed the masses. My sister was in charge of one thing; and one thing only. Spider webs. She’d spend hours finding places to stretch those stringy white webs. I think you know that can be done quickly and in sloppy fashion. That was not my sister. She was meticulous and did a fabulous job.

There was a “boy” list and a “girl” list. It was sort of sexist but any boy could do things on the girl list and vice versa. The boy projects usually involved heavy lifting or construction elements. The girl list mostly involved food prep. We had a blast even before the big party started.

I will be able to write columns for years to come from all the stories that surfaced from the 10 years of Halloween parties. For now, I’ll give you just a bit of the details in case you want some hints on things you could incorporate into yours. These things worked well for me...

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