Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en is my favorite personal holiday, and I have some very fond memories of October at California's Fort Tejon. As a former re-enactor, I usually went up early and camped an extra day for the October Civil War Weekend. It was the last get-together at the Fort until Spring, so it was special. When the October moon rose, the hauntings began, and lots of tricks were played by our soldiers, on everyone! I certainly got my share!!

One of my favorite memories was of the jack-o-lanterns carved by the re-enactors and their families. It seemed each group would try to outdo the others in creativity and humor. All the generals were carved, lots of flag images, and of course, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln.

It was glorious to stand there at the top of the little hill and look down into the camps, with their cooking fires and glowing jack-o-lanterns. Warm cider and gingerbread scents wafted along the cool autumn evening breezes, and sometimes there was kettle-popped corn with caramel for making popcorn balls. I truly loved those evenings.

In scouring my sources for information about Hallowe'en and the Civil War, I thought I had completely failed. I found a pumpkin carved like Lincoln, but nary a Confederate jack-o-lantern did I discover. Then my searching paid off! Co. Aytch, or, A Side Show of the Big Show, by Samuel Rush Watkins, came to mind. The book is just fun to read, and I figured ol' Sam might have something to say, since Elisha Rhodes Hunt was mum on the matter.

Corinth, Mississippi: This is where I first saw a jack-o-lantern (ignis fatui). That night, while Tom and I were on our posts, we saw a number of very dim lights, which seemed to be in motion. At first we took them to be Yankees, moving about with lights. Whenever we could get a shot we would blaze away. At last one got up very close, and passed right between Tom and I. I don't think I was ever more scared in my life. My hair stood on end like the quills of the fretful porcupine; I could not imagine what on earth it was. I took it to be some hellish machination of a Yankee trick. I did not know whether to run or stand, until I heard Tom laugh and say, "Well, well--that's a jack-o-lantern!!"


  1. Good times with great people , It is a shame to know that fun at a real Civil War site in California may be coming to an end soon. I remember all the years at Ft. Tejon and all the fun we had , Thank you Meg , you brought back some great memories !!!!!!

    Steve Mata

  2. Pass on my eternal regards to all--please? I hope to see you soon.