The Great Pumpkin

by Molly O'Neill
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From the NY Time Magazine

bigpumpkins.jpgFor anyone who grew up near Circleville, Ohio, the possibilities of pumpkin are a measure of one's maturity, one's level of sophistication, the depth of one's world view. There, in a town that would otherwise be unknown, is the Circleville Pumpkin Show -- four days of unabashed Americana that, since 1903, have featured seven parades each year and a range of pumpkin contests to rival the Olympics. The medium is accorded such respect that the farmer who produces the largest pumpkin is considered agriculture's own Einstein. The premier pumpkin carver is accorded an awe worthy of Michelangelo.

And Miss Pumpkin. Well, the real mystery about Marilyn Monroe is how she became an American icon without ever being crowned with pumpkin vines and riding astride the float that looks like Cinderella's carriage, far above the rest of us. There we were: hundreds of June and Ward Cleaver couples, holding the hands of little boys who harbored ideas of planting firecrackers inside jack-o'-lanterns and little girls like me, who were worried about slipping knee socks and the possible consequence of a brisk fall wind under our pleated skirts. We all cheered Miss Pumpkin.

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