What’s Your Great Pumpkin?
In honor of Halloween, our illustrious editor, Kathy Ptacek, asked all the newsletter regulars to provide her with a paragraph about their favorite Halloween memory. For me, it was the release of my first novel, on Halloween Eve 2010 (Carnival of Fear), which, appropriately enough, was about a haunted Halloween carnival.
But that got me thinking. Not only about my best Halloween memory, but all the different things I can remember about the holiday. As we get older, we tend to forget things. Can I remember all my Halloweens from my school years, or from college? No. I was young, and on a few occasions, very drunk.
There is one thing I remember, though. My first Halloween memory.
Watching IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN with my parents.
How old was I the first time I saw it? It came out in 1966, which means I would have been five. I’m sure my parents watched it with me that year, but I remember nothing—zero, zilch, nada—from that time in my life. I do remember that at about seven or eight, it was already an annual event in my house, and I was looking forward to it. Back then, holiday specials only came out once a year, usually a couple of days before the actual holiday. So this would have been a few days before Halloween.
I can remember sitting down in front of the TV. There would be no eating at the table that night; a special occasion called for TV trays in the living room and probably some kind of “fun” dinner, like a Swanson’s frozen meal with tater tots! Or maybe even a pizza. (I grew up in a small town, and in 1969 there was one pizza place within 10 miles.) If Mom cooked, it’d be spaghetti and meatballs, my favorite.
We’d sit in our chairs or on the couch, hunched over trays, Mom and Dad smoking (no one knew it was bad back then!), and wait. A quick check of old TV guides (they are online) shows that in 1969 THE GREAT PUMPKIN aired at 7:30 on a Sunday night (October 26). Remember, it was the only—the only!—Halloween cartoon back then. So beforehand, we probably watched the news. Or maybe LAND OF THE GIANTS. Or LASSIE. After it was over, at 8 p.m., I would have been sent to bed and probably read some comics or a book under the covers, pretending to be asleep, while my parents watched THE BILL COSBY SHOW and then BONANZA.
For that glorious half-hour, though … I was in heaven. I loved everything Charlie Brown and Snoopy back then. The Christmas special, the Thanksgiving special. I had all the books. For me, The Great Pumpkin was the absolute best part of Halloween, even more than trick or treating or eating the candy.
And that’s saying a lot, because even at 8, I was totally into scary stuff. I loved the Universal monster movies, had the Aurora models, read scary books and creepy comic books. Devoured the Hardy Boys mysteries.
When it came to The Great Pumpkin, though, nothing compared.
Now it’s 50 years later, and guess what? I still haven’t missed a single year of watching it. It’s easier now – every special airs a dozen times during the month of October and you can just tape something and watch when you want.
It’s not as special as it once was.
And guess what? That doesn’t matter. It’s special in a different way, a nostalgic way.
And it always will be.
That’s my Halloween memory. What’s your Great Pumpkin?
My new novel, Hellrider, from Flame Tree Press, is available now in print editions (hard cover, trade paperback) and in e-book format now at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hellrider-Fiction-Without-Frontiers-Faherty/dp/1787582620.
When Eddie Ryder is burned alive by fellow members of the Hell Riders motorcycle gang for ratting on them, he vows revenge with his dying breath. He returns as a ghost, with his custom motorcycle Diablo by his side. After he finds out he can possess people, he launches a campaign of vengeance that leaves plenty of bodies in its wake and the police in a state of confusion. Spouting fire and lightning from his fingers and screaming heavy metal lyrics as he rides the sky above the town of Hell Creek, he brings destruction down on all those who wronged him, his power growing with every death. Only Eddie’s younger brother, Carson, and the police chief’s daughter, Ellie, understand what’s really happening, and now they have to stop him before he destroys the whole town.
Hellrider is a grindhouse supernatural revenge tale of redemption gone bad. It’s also a love story filled with darkly funny, over the top violence. In short, it’s a thrill-filled fun ride.
“Hellrider is a thunder and muscle hell ride through dangerous territory. Fun, wicked, and unrelenting. A horror thriller that breaks the rules and the speed limit at the same time.” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author
Also out now is my new collection of short stories from Cemetery Dance Press, Houses of the Unholy, which includes a brand-spanking-new novella, “December Soul,” which is a sequel to my popular short story, “The Lazarus Effect.” “December Soul” is a darkly poignant romance set during an unusual apocalypse.
Available in e-book and print formats: https://www.amazon.com/Houses-Unholy-JG-Faherty-ebook/dp/B07QR7R7KZ. And also at B&N and other retailers.
And, as always, check out all my other titles: http://tinyurl.com/jgfaherty