Thursday, October 31, 2013

Countdown To Halloween: "A Hallowe'en Party" (1896)

"Pumpkin Carving", Benjamin Franklin Reinhart, 1872  (via)
It's Halloween! Which means we've come to the end of the Countdown for another year. There's still time to take in the glory of Benjamin Franklin Reinhart's pumpkin carvers, above, another illustration that comes courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society. It also means it's time for a party - Caroline Ticknor's "A Hallowe'en Party" (1896), to be precise.

But beware - because, as Mr. J. Turner Dodge discovers in this story, Halloween parties aren't always what you expect. Dodge is a fashionable young man around town - New York - who is rather charmed to receive an invitation to a "witching evening" soirée:

Even though he's obliged to travel to the suburbs for the party, Dodge is optimistic about the kind of authentic delights that will be on offer at his friends' "pleasant country house":

It doesn't take long, however, for Dodge to be disabused of his romantic notions. It's decidedly ominous when he's the only guest decked out in a dress suit. And, indeed, that dress suit is in for a particularly horrifying evening, as Dodge is subjected to a variety of Halloween parlour games - apple bobbing, blind man's buff, apple paring, love tests, more apple-based activities - all of which go rather badly for him.

The moral? Halloween is for rubes - at least, as far as a bright young thing like Dodge is concerned.

So that's it for this year. Happy Halloween! I hope your festivities provide you with a bit more fun than Dodge's misadventures. See you back here for the 2014 Countdown.

Related reading: Rob, at the marvellous American Literary Blog, wrote a post on this story a couple of years ago - so props to him!

No comments: