A Halloween Tradition Gets Started


               A Halloween Tradition Gets Started

                          JACK THE PUMPKIN

There once was a pumpkin named Jack.
Who grew up in a patch out in back.
There’s not much a pumpkin can do,
But grow in the sun, so he grew,
And he grew and grew and grew.

Jack asked, “What’s my fate going to be?
Is there something out there just for me?”
But the word came down on the vine,
“You’re going to be food, Jack, don’t pine,
You’re food on which people will dine.”

Then came that eventful day,
When Jack was taken away.
Jack was put in a roadside stand,
To sit on the rack looking grand,
’til a family came by in a van.

The family bought Jack for their boy,
To play with instead of a toy.
He cried out, “Oh Dad, please come quick,
Sis’ has done a really mean trick.
She poked holes in Jack with a stick!”

“Now, don’t cry over this,” said his dad.
“These holes aren’t really so bad.
With my knife it will be no big feat,
To round out the holes to look neat,
Before Mom bakes a pie we can eat.”

“My goodness,” Mom said to the lad,
“What caused you kids and your dad,
To cut holes in your pumpkin? Who knows!
These holes can be eyes, cut a smile and a nose,
With a candle inside, how he glows!”

“He’ll be a light for the kids on the street,
When they come to the door for a treat.
Jack will be a Halloween light,
To shine out into the night,
So the shadows won’t be such a fright.”

So Jack found his destiny,
With a name for all history.
His fame spread on Halloween night,
As the pumpkin lantern so bright.
He was the first Jack O’ Lantern, all right!

                                                                                                                Robert Z. Hicks, “Mr. Bob”

(Jack the Pumpkin is an excerpt from my unpublished book, “Once I Was A Kid, With the Wild Things on Grandpa’s Farm.”

“Once I Was A Kid…” is a memoir collection of anecdotes of experiences I had from age 7 to 12, with rhyming stories inspired  by those adventures.)

95. Panama Canal

95.  Panama Canal

Aboard another Carnival ship, we cruised to Panama, then north to Costa Rica, and Belize.  In Panama, we took the shore tour, transferring to a smaller ferry to transit the Panama Canal.  Did you know that ships travel 48 miles west to east to go from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean?

Most of the time is going up and down – 3 lifts up to Lake Gatun, a single flight down at Pedro Miguel, and a two-step flight down at Miraflores on the Pacific side.  Twenty-six million gallons of water have to flow by gravity into the chambers to lift a ship.

We saw a ship loaded with Hondas from Japan going the opposite direction in the parallel lock.  It was going very slow because there was only 2 ft of clearance on the sides.  An expansion project to accommodate larger ships began in 2007, and opened for commercial use in 2016.

Ahead of us, sharing the chamber, was a small sailboat, perhaps 32-35’ in length.  I imagined they were on a round-the-world cruise like I dreamed of when I was young.

Once on the Pacific side, at Miraflores, we transferred to buses for the ride back to the Caribbean side, and our ship.

There was a short cruise to Costa Rica, then on to Belize.  At both stops, we did not take shore tours.  At Belize we rode the tender ashore and sat on the dock to get a closer look at the colorful storefronts prepared to attract tourists.

A year later, we had our last cruise, going to Montego Bay at Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel.   Well, we hope it will not be our last cruise; only a pause to get ready for another.  Cruises are too much fun!  Betty enjoys not having to cook or do laundry, and I enjoy eating.  Maybe we can justify going on another cruise so I can gain weight!

Next week is Halloween, so for a change of pace, I’m planning a surprise!

94. Puerto Vallarta – Mexico

94. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Our 3rd, and last shore tour on our Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean “Visions of the Sea,” was at Puerto Vallarta, a still picturesque fishing village.  Tourism began in 1964 after Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton made the movie, “Night of the Iguana,” there, and bought homes.

When the young woman who was our tour guide got on the bus, she announced, in Spanish, “This tour is conducted in Spanish.  Is that a problem?”  A man behind me replied, “Es un problema grande!”  (That’s a big problem!)  Then the gal said, “Well, then I guess I will try doing it in English.” (In perfect english.)  There was laughter and a sigh of relief!

Puerto Vallarta had a grand promenade along the wide beach, with bronze statues punctuating the view along the walk.  The last statue was of a boy on a seahorse, a landmark signature point of the city.  Across the cobblestone street, two-story restaurants and gift shops with balconies, presented a picturesque glimpse of days gone by.

Betty went with the group for a walking tour to the local cathedral.  When they got off the bus, Betty stopped to take pictures of traditionally dressed dancers performing on the beach walk.

Because I did not leave the bus with the group, I was treated to a private ride around back streets and over the river to “Gringo Gulch,” where affluent Americans, including Liz Taylor & Richard Burton, had purchased homes.

After the town tour, the bus took us down the coast to a lookout point above Banderas Bay for a photo stop.  The foliage and vistas were reminiscent of Hawaii.  It was another fun day on our cruise.

Then back to the ship for good times at sea as we went back to San Diego.

93. Mazatlan – Mexico

93.  Mazatlan Mexico Ole’

South of Cabo San Lucas on the west coast of Mexico, we went ashore for a bus tour at Mazatlan.  Mazatlan is a large resort community, which became of note when the mountains rising behind were the inspiration for the movie, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” which became a classic Humphrey Bogart movie.

Mazatlan is a famous place for sport fishermen, boasting year around fishing for marlin and sailfish.

First we visited the 19th century Imaculada Concepcion Cathedral.  The cathedral is the main religious building in the city of Mazatlan, and is located in the historical center.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1856, by order of the then bishop Pedro Loza.  Construction was interrupted, and a parish priest Miguel Lacarra took over and concluded the cathedral in 1899.  The church had amazing architecture with a facade of carved volcanic rock, and a breath taking interior sanctuary.

Our last stop was a folklore show at an outdoor theater.  We saw the famous Mexican Hat Dance, and songs and dances from ancient and colonial Mexico. The performers were dressed in their colorful traditional costumes.

The high point of the show, (no pun intended) was the Papantlan Flyers, a ceremony passed down for generations. Five men who were the “flyers” climbed a very tall pole.  Four of them tied ropes to their waist and ankles, and then descended upside down swinging in widening circles as the ropes unwound from the pole.  The older man played a flute and danced on the small platform at the top of the pole.  It was an impressive and daring ceremony from ancient Mexican traditions.

 

92. Cabo San Lucas – The Mexican Riviera

92.  Cabo San Lucas – The Mexican “Riviera”

Life aboard Visions of the Sea, a 900 ft+ Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing the “Love Boat Route” from San Diego California to Puerto Vallarta Mexico, seemed like a week-long fantasy.  We went this route twice, the second time on a Carnival ship in 2005, sailing from Long Beach.

Our first of three shore excursions in Mexico was at the Land’s End of Baja California, at the small city of Cabo San Lucas.  A power lift dropped me from deck to gangplank level, and with crewmen holding me port & starboard, I stepped gracefully aboard the rocking ship’s tender for the ride to the dock.

I rolled my walker across the dock to the small glass-bottom boat for our 40-minute trip out to the Land’s End where we saw the striking rock formations of Los Aros.  We passed a pelican rookery, and a pile of seals resting in the shade of the rocks.  We paused near a large sea lion basking on a ledge, and our boat driver yelled at him, “Hey Pedro, wake up!” Pedro rolled over, sat up and posed disdainfully while we took pictures. When the boat turned away, Pedro laid back down to resume his nap.

Cabo San Lucas looked much like any small Southwestern US town, but with major housing construction underway.  Giorgio’s Restaurant, where we stopped for a free beverage, was perched on a high point with a magnificent view of the Land’s End rocks, the great curve of yellow beach along the coast in front of the city, and the harbor with our ship anchored in the center.  You can see our ship just to the left of Betty, who graciously climbed on the rock so I  could get the picture.  Behind Giorgio’s were rows of giant vacant-eyed stone monoliths —pastel high-rise condos standing like Easter Island monuments, quiet, empty, and unfinished.  (Perhaps it was siesta time…I saw no activity.)

When we arrived the second time at Cabo San Lucas, we rode the tender ashore, and sat a while on a bench on the pier and watched the world go by.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  Is it part of getting “older” that we enjoy “being” as much as “doing”?  Got a great picture of a pelican resting on a small boat right in front of us to keep us company.  Two Mexican marines standing at the end of the pier with automatic weapons reminded us of the real world out there.

Cabo San Lucas was exploding — a lot of new buildings and construction.  We watched the parasails, sailboats, buzzing jet skis circling, and tenders coming and going to our ship.   A great cloud of pelicans and gulls followed a fishing boat returning, obviously after a successful day!