A Magical Halloween Story

It was the Before Time – The time before I was a full-time entertainer. I was a public school teacher with all the wonder and excitement that is part of that world. Even so, magic was a part of my everyday life and here is a true story from that time and place. I call it . . .

The One and Only World Famous

Invisible Pumpkin

by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.

A story that proves even teachers can learn a thing or two . . .

Schools were just places for learning and pumpkins only distant cousins of the lowly squash, or so I had always thought. But this Halloween I was to learn that by combining the two, magic can happen.

It was two weeks before Halloween when it arrived – a quiet little memo appeared in my mail box at the school where I taught. The memo announced that each class at Gwin Oaks Elementary School was to have an entry for a pumpkin carving contest. I quickly disposed of it. “Just something extra that I don’t have to do,” I thought to myself, and dismissed the matter entirely.

Thursday rolled around and various beautifully carved and decorated pumpkins began taking their places in the hallway outside classroom doors. The bare spot next to my door might have gone un-noticed by my students, except for one of the morning announcements on the intercom. “Please be sure to have your pumpkins outside your classroom door in the hallway before school is out for the day. Pumpkins will be judged after school and winners announced tomorrow morning.”

Twenty-five anxious fifth graders turned to me in unison. “Are we going to have a pumpkin, Mr. Flegal?” they asked.

“Well, uh, I really hadn’t planned on having one. I sort of forgot. But it’s okay. We don’t have to do everything that everybody else does. We are individuals!”

It was one of my best speeches; a rah! rah! cheer for the strength of the individual. Stand up for yourself! Don’t follow the pack! But it was all swept away with one student’s quiet comment. “That means we can’t win the prize, doesn’t it.” I felt like Scrooge.

The morning subjects crawled by. At lunch the only topic seemed to be “…how wonderful everyone else’s pumpkins were…,” and “…why couldn’t we be in the contest?” I stayed outside the conversations and prayed for the quiet of the teachers’ lounge during art class.

Finally, art time arrived. I deposited my charges with the art teacher and slunk down to the lounge. But even there, with feet up and eyes closed, there was no peace. “Well, Mr. Flegal,” came the voice of another teacher, “how are you decorating your pumpkin?”

Tormentors everywhere! L E A V E- M E- A L O N E !!

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” I replied calmly.

“Yours will probably be magic,” they persisted.

“Yes,” I forced a laugh. “Some people may not even be able to see it.”

I settled back in the chair, when suddenly the words re-played through my head; “Yours will probably be magic.” “Why not!” I thought.

People have come to expect me to do crazy and unusual things because they know I work as a professional magician after school hours. Folks are always asking me to make this or that disappear. Well, I wouldn’t disappoint them!

I hurried back to my classroom and moved a small table into the hall next to my door. Next, I scribbled out a sign and attached it to the table. I stood back to survey my handiwork and smiled. It read:Gary Flegal Invisible Pumpkin 03

This was going to be great. I went back to my room, leaving the door open so that I could hear the comments of those who passed by. Within a minute several boys had stopped. I knew they would smile and think it was wonderfully clever.

“How stupid!” one of the boys remarked. “There’s nothing there!” And they walked off. I could feel their smirks all the way from the hall.

It was clear that something must be done quickly. I simply could not have an invisible pumpkin if people thought it was dumb. Before my students returned from art class, another sign had appeared next to the first:Gary Flegal Invisible Pumpkin 02

The reaction of my class was mixed. Some thought it would be fun, but others were still concerned that we didn’t have a pumpkin. “It’ll be like a game,” I explained, “only we must all pretend that there is a real pumpkin there and that we can see it. We’ll have a lot of fun!”

“Can we put an announcement on about it being stolen?” one student asked.

“If you’ll write it up, I’ll see if we can get the principal to read it.” I smiled. They were hooked!

The following morning after the Pledge of Allegiance, winners for the pumpkin contest were announced. Our class did not win a prize, but the announcement continued. “Halloween is still one week away, boys and girls, and we would like all of the pumpkins to remain on display in the hall where everyone can enjoy them. But it has come to my attention that Mr. Flegal’s invisible pumpkin has been stolen. Please have it returned before the end of today.” My class cheered. We were famous.

About fifteen minutes later the intercom came to life again. “Excuse the interruption. Mr. Flegal’s invisible pumpkin has been returned. Thank you to whoever brought it back. Please remember to look at the pumpkin, but not touch. Thank you. Have a nice day.”

Nice” does not even begin to describe our day. It was great! At every opportunity someone would be near the doorway to make certain that everyone who walked by, teacher or child, stopped to appreciate the beauty of The One and Only World Famous Magic Invisible Pumpkin. We left for our weekend riding high.

On Monday morning the invisible pumpkin was still there, having weathered the loneliness of the weekend quite well. As I stood in the hall greeting students, children from other classes stopped to inform me that they had been the ones who had stolen the pumpkin. I expressed mock amazement that they would take it, and they told me that they would take it again if no one was looking. It was a fun way to start a Monday.

Lunch time came as usual and the invisible pumpkin was still sitting there, smiling its blank smile as we passed by to the cafeteria.

It was as we returned from lunch that we first noticed the change. The One and Only World Famous Magic Invisible Pumpkin was V I S I B L E !!! We could truly see it!Gary Flegal pumpkin_png

My students looked at me for an explanation, but I let them know I had nothing to do with the pumpkin’s appearance. After a few moments I suggested that perhaps, because so many people had believed in our pumpkin, it had become visible so that everyone could see it. Several other theories were proposed by students, including the preposterous notion that someone had put it there. I even checked out several leads in this direction, but they all turned out negative.

An announcement the following morning thanked everyone in the school for believing so much in the invisible pumpkin that now everyone could see it. The announcement had disastrous results. Before the end of the day the pumpkin had become invisible again.

Some of my students believed that someone took the pumpkin away, but I know what really happened. When it became visible, people no longer had to think so hard about it and their faith began to lessen. The less people believed, the fewer people could see the pumpkin. This, I’m sure, accounts for why the pumpkin’s visibility flickered in and out, all the way up to Halloween day when it finally disappeared for good.

I have been asked before, if there is “real magic,” and I have replied, “Yes.” Real magic is the smiles and laughter that people experience and share together; a secretly moved pumpkin here, an invisible pumpkin seen there. Because of our visit by The One and Only World Famous Magic Invisible Pumpkin, I know that magic truly happened at Gwin Oaks Elementary School. My only regret is that I may never see the invisible pumpkin again.

 Gary Flegal is now living in the Nashville, TN area
and works full-time as a professional magician.
Invite him to bring smiles and laughter to your group.
Call today.