Saturday, October 19, 2013

The '50s in jack-o-lantern form

I'm not exactly a bubbly person (Okay-- the type who would be perfectly happy to go for days on end poring through books and speaking to no more than two or three people), but a few things have the potential to make me unreasonably happy. One of those things is old cookbooks, and another is Halloween. This is a way of saying that if you like cookbooks but not Halloween, you're going to be disappointed by a few posts this month. I don't care, though, because the 1959 Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cook Book will teach me how to make Outer-space Man out of a pumpkin garnished with olives, carrots, macaroni, and plenty of toothpicks:

I am not sure what makes this pumpkin an Outer-space Man. The V-shaped hairline? The triangular eyes that still manage to cross? With his few remaining sprigs of curly carrot-top hair, he looks more grandfatherly than otherworldly to me. It doesn't help that the macaroni "teeth" look more like a gray mustache in the picture. He isn't really trying to invade earth; he just wants to find his slippers.

Next up is Slap-Happy Sam. I suspect he has to act happy because as a butternut squash, he's part of the Halloween minority community. He knows what could happen if he speaks out about squash being segregated to its own patch of the garden, rarely allowed to serve in the more glamorous decorative role, and relegated primarily to utilitarian "ingredient" status. He wears a comical hat, playfully sticks out his radish tongue, and bides his time until the other butternut squash are ready for some collective action.

The Daffy Devil clearly leans more toward the "daffy" part of his name. Bushy celery-leaf eyebrows and carrot "horns" that look more like donkey ears help stave off complaints from the fundamentalist family down the block who didn't appreciate the less friendly devil last year. He can't be a real devil, but maybe a devil's goofy cousin.

Last up is Goblin Girl, her adorable saucer eyes careful not to reveal how tired she is of having to wait until the boys have all had their chance before she gets to answer a question in class. We know she's a girl because she has a cute radish nose, a big pink bow, and a stylish "Italian haircut."

I love these, of course. They have all the qualities I love in old cookbooks-- thrifty use of items readers probably have around the house already, whimsy, the imperfection of the homemade. They also remind me why I'm so glad to write about the '50s from a distance.

1 comment:

  1. You know how cookbooks make me happy, Poppy but Halloween, well, quite frankly I can take it or leave it. However, this page from Better Homes managed to bring a smile to my morning face:)

    They are all rather ghoulish but left to choose just one, I'd have to go with Slap Happy Sam!

    Thank you so much for sharing...