Pumpkin decor and jack-o’-lanterns have become ubiquitous symbols of Halloween, but how did a simple squash become a quintessential part of this American holiday? Cindy Ott explores this and other surprising stories about the pumpkin’s rise to icon status in her book, Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon. Beginning with the myth of the first Thanksgiving, she shows how Americans have used the pumpkin to fulfill their desire to maintain connections to nature and to the family farm of lore, and how small farms and rural communities have been revitalized in the process. In the following excerpt from the book, Ott delves into the origins and evolution of Halloween pumpkin traditions.
When most Americans think about communing with nature, they probably do not think about celebrating Halloween, but its festivities say a lot about how Americans imagine the natural world around them. While adult costume parties and parades still define the holiday, they share the night with children walking from door to door in costumes, yelling ‘Trick or Treat!’ to be rewarded with candies from their neighbors. The tradition started in the 1920s and became more popular with post-World-War II suburbanization and the baby boom. Pumpkins ranging from a single jack o’ lantern to more elaborate displays greet neighborhood children. Some homes metamorphose into haunted-house extravaganzas, with cobwebs stretched across bushes, faux gravestones planted in yards, paper skeletons hanging from porch rafters, and glowing jack-o’-lanterns perched on doorsteps. Others highlight a country feel, with hay bales, pumpkin-headed scarecrows, cornstalks, folk-art style wooden pumpkin cutouts, and fresh pumpkins piled decoratively near potted mums. Continue reading
In the 1950s, the city of Seattle began a transformation from an insular, provincial outpost to a vibrant and cosmopolitan cultural center. As veteran Seattle journalist R. M. Campbell illustrates in Stirring Up Seattle: Allied Arts in the Civic Landscape, this transformation was catalyzed in part by the efforts of a group of civic arts boosters originally known as “The Beer and Culture Society.” This merry band of lawyers, architects, writers, designers, and university professors, eventually known as Allied Arts of Seattle, lobbied for public funding for the arts, helped avert the demolition of Pike Place Market, and were involved in a wide range of crusades and campaigns in support of historic preservation, cultural institutions, and urban livability. The excerpts below introduce five influential activists who shaped the Seattle we know and love; learn more about them and the battles they waged along with other activists in Stirring Up Seattle.
Upcoming event: Join Stirring Up Seattle author R.M. Campbell as well as Mary Coney, both members of the original Allied Arts, and former Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman for a conversation moderated by Town Hall founder David Brewster at Town Hall Seattle on November 10 at 7:30 p.m.
1. Alice Rooney
Alice Rooney with Paul Schell at the Allied Arts annual meeting, 1979. Photo by Roger Schreiber. University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.
Alice Rooney almost said no to Robert Jackson Block, then president of Allied Arts, when he offered her the job of executive secretary in 1960. “I have two children; I live in the suburbs and have no car.” Block then asked two questions: “Do you have a typewriter? And phone?” Well, yes, she tentatively replied. In his customary fashion, Block barked, “What’s the big deal? That’s all you need. You’re hired.” And so Rooney came to the fledging organization that had been founded only six years earlier, and stayed for twenty years […] Even now, some thirty years later, one does not mention Allied Arts without mentioning Rooney. Continue reading
October is Filipino American History Month and there are a number of events celebrating this heritage in the Northwest and beyond. This year also marks the centennial of Carlos Bulosan‘s birth, and a series of events—including the “Empire is in the Heart” conference at the University of Washington—seek to celebrate his place in American literary and labor history. The University of Washington Press is proud to be the publisher of a number of history and literature titles that shed light on multiple aspects of the Filipino American experience:
America Is in the Heart: A Personal History
By Carlos Bulosan
New introduction by Marilyn Alquizola and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi
First published in 1943, this classic memoir by well-known Filipino poet Carlos Bulosan describes his boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America, and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West. Read an excerpt from the new edition here.
All the Conspirators
By Carlos Bulosan; introduction by Caroline S. Hau and Benedict Anderson
In this thriller set at the end of World War II, American Gar Stanley returns to his native Philippines to help his childhood sweetheart locate her missing husband in the wake of a Japanese ambush. With Clem’s ring as his only clue, Gar moves from the nightclubs of Manila to the mountains of Baguio, from mansions to hovels, bordellos to churches. He pursues and is pursued by bankers, matrons, hoboes, warriors, and thugs. Gar quickly realizes that no one is who they seem in this war-ravaged country. He must move quickly to stay ahead of the deadly conspirators before they silence his friend.
Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino American
By Peter Jamero, foreword by Dorothy Laigo Cordova
Peter Jamero’s story of hardship and success illuminates the experience of what he calls the “bridge generation” — the American-born children of the Filipinos recruited as farm workers in the 1920s and ’30s. Their experiences span the gap between these early immigrants and those Filipinos who owe their U.S. residency to the liberalization of immigration laws in 1965. His book is a sequel of sorts to Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart, with themes of heartbreaking struggle against racism and poverty and eventual triumph. Continue reading
Ian McAllister’s richly illustrated new book, Great Bear Wild, combines stunning photographs of the Great Bear Rainforest with essays that illustrate threats posed to the region by climate change, oil pipelines, and resource extraction. The book’s essays and photographs demonstrate the intimate and delicate connection between the ocean and rainforest—how the marine and terrestrial worlds don’t collide, but support each other: island wolves preying on salmon and seals; herring feeding countless birds and terrestrial mammals; salmon feeding over 200 species in the inshore environment. McAllister masterfully documents this tideline interface in his photographs, while passionately arguing for the preservation of this fabled region accompanying essays. Here, he discusses the Great Bear Rainforest, its most imminent threats, and the importance of conserving this treasured place.
Q: Many readers who pick up your book will be hearing about the Great Bear Rainforest for the first time. Why should readers here in the US be concerned about the Enbridge Pipeline, unsustainable fishing practices, or other threats facing the Great Bear? What can they do to help conservationists and First Nations in their efforts?
Ian McAllister: The Great Bear Rainforest finds itself in the unfortunate position of having become ground zero in a battle that is redefining Canada. We are at a crossroads as a nation and we now have to choose either to expand production of the climate altering tar sands while turning this magnificent coastal paradise into an energy corridor to Asia or to protect this coast and begin a strategic transition toward clean energy.
There is no one on this planet that will be spared impact if these pipelines are built through our rainforest. These projects will lead to exponential growth in tar sands production and the ensuing climate changing extraction process, not to mention the refining, transportation and ultimately the emissions coming out of millions of cars in Asia. If Canada, one of the most prosperous nations on the planet turns its back on dealing with climate change and is willing to sacrifice one of the most fabled wild coastlines on earth just to send oil to Asia then how can we possibly expect other countries to do their part? This is not just about our coast but is hugely symbolic—it is about our ability to be part of a global solution, to regain a leadership role in protecting this planet.
Photo by Ian McAllister.
We have been successful in the past at achieving large-scale habitat protection for the Great Bear Rainforest but it happened because people around the world stood up for this rainforest. Due to its intensive logging practices, Canada was at one time called the Brazil of the North but international condemnation forced those practices to change here. We need that kind of international pressure again now. First Nations are fighting a heroic battle to protect their traditional territories. The majority of British Columbians want a legislated ban on oil tankers in the Great Bear but we won’t achieve this until more people abroad make their voice heard. I hope this book, these images, and the stories that are told in it help encourage more people to speak out for this fragile and spectacular coast.
Mary Randlett Portraits—the first collection of Mary Randlett’s photographs of people—presents visual artists, writers, and arts advocates from 1949 to 2014. Her portraits are known for their effortless intimacy, illuminating her subjects as few ever saw them—something noted by many of those whom she photographed. The portraits are accompanied by biographical sketches written by Frances McCue. Her short essays blend life stories and reflections on the photographs with Randlett’s own reminiscences. McCue also provides an essay that is the first to frame the scope of Randlett’s life and professional career. Mary Randlett, who will be 91 in May, 2015, is still photographing landscapes. Her last portrait photograph was of the author of this book, Frances McCue. The photographs and vignettes below are extracted from Mary Randlett Portraits.
1. Henry Miller, 1949
“Turn up Partington Ridge,” Mary Randlett’s mother told her. They were driving along Big Sur, up the California coast. “We’re visiting the writer Henry Miller and you should photograph him and his family.” So, the young Mary Willis, a budding photographer, obliged. In this picture, Henry Miller is watching his son Tony. His novels Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn were banned in the United States at the time the photograph was taken.