Halloween 2010 & the retelling of Singy Jack

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Blog entry by OttoH posted 10-31-2010 03:06 PM 6591 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t really consider this to be a project so I am blogging it instead. I had my darling wife purchase an odd shaped pumpkin this year for our yearly Jack-O-Lantern so I could get a little more creative in my carving. The problem is that it will not stand on it’s own so I had to build a stand for it out of some reclaimed pallet wood.

I have it sitting on a cart I made last year before I joined the LumberJocks site the cart is made out of reclaimed pallets and shipping containers. The cart was built on the fly with just a rough sketch and then modified tremendously during construction. The rear wheels are from an old kick-bike whose frame got bent and the front wheels were purchased at the local hardware store. The sheet metal top was also reclaimed from an old paint booth.

Here is a retelling of why we carve Jack-O-Lanterns.

Stingy Jack A Retelling
(with minor liberties)
by Otto Hallberg

In the early 1700’s in Ireland there lived a miserly, miserable, mischievous, malcontent by the name of Stingy Jack. Everyone around the county knew of Stingy Jack and knew to steer clear of him for he was nothing but trouble. One night as Stingy Jack stumbled out of the Public House and headed down the road towards home he happened to meet the devil upon the road. Now the devil had heard many things about Stingy Jack and decided that he could use Jack to do his bidding in Hades.

As Stingy Jack met up with Lucifer, he tried to hurry by him but the devil blocked his way. Stingy Jack said “Excuse me sir, but I must get by for there are two gentlemen giving me chase and I must avoid them.” The devil looked at Stingy Jack and asked “do you not know me?” “Oh most gracious sir” replied Stingy Jack “everyone knows of you and your deeds, it is just that there are two Christian gentlemen pursuing me that I have cheated out of a sixpence.” “Really” replied the devil who was getting intrigued by the situation “two Christian gentlemen you say, tell me more.”

“Well sir,” said Stingy Jack “I promised them a sixpence for my evenings drink and bolted from the Public House as I finished my last because I had no money with me. But I hear tell that you can change yourself into any shape or form that you so desire, what if you were to change into a sixpence I could hand you to them as payment and then you could disappear to leave them arguing about who stole the sixpence from the other.” “Ah” replied Satan “this is a great plan that will cause these two Christians to mistrust each other from now on, I shall do it.” And with that the devil changed himself into a sixpence and hopped into Stingy Jack’s coin purse. Stingy Jack then took a silver cross out of his pocket and dropped it into the bag next to the sixpence.

Now the devil cannot change himself into anything when he has a cross so close to him and Stingy Jack had him trapped. “Stingy Jack! Stingy Jack!” bellowed the devil “let me out of here!” Stingy Jack replied “I shall do so sir, but only under one condition, that you do not come to collect my soul for another ten years.” “All right, you have bested me, I agree” replied the devil, and with that Stingy Jack let him out of the coin purse and sent him on his way.

Ten years to the day Stingy Jack was once more stumbling home from the Public House when he chanced upon Lucifer on the road. The devil looked at him and said “Stingy Jack, I have come for your soul!” Stingy Jack replied, “sir, I shall go with you willingly if you could just grant me one last wish, you see I have always wanted to eat an apple from that tree, but have never been able to reach one. If you would but get me an apple and let me eat it before you take my soul I would be most indebted to you.” The devil thought about this for a moment and knew that Stingy Jack could be trouble even for him, so to appease Stingy Jack and make the harvesting of his soul easier the devil agreed to his terms. As Satan climbed the apple tree to get the apple Stingy Jack took out his knife and carved a cross into the trunk of the tree.

Once more Stingy Jack had bested the devil, and Lucifer was furious! “STINGY JACK!” screamed the devil “How Dare You Do This To Me! You Must Let Me Down!” Stingy Jack replied “I shall let you down only if you promise to never take my soul through the gates of hell, I shall be off limits to you always.” The devil knew he had been beaten and begrudgingly agreed to Stingy Jacks terms. Stingy Jack took out his knife and carved the cross out of the tree so the devil could get down and go on his way.

A few years later Stingy Jack died and went up to heaven, as he was about to enter the gates Saint Peter looked at him and said “No Stingy Jack, Heaven is not for the likes of you, you must go below.” Stingy Jack was immediately transported to the gates of hell, and as he was about to enter the devil stepped forward and said “Stingy Jack, do you not remember the oath you had me swear that I would not allow your soul into my domain?” “But sir” replied Stingy Jack “where am I to go?” “You must go back from whence you came” replied the devil with an immense grin of satisfaction. “But the way is so dark, misty, and treacherous, how shall I make my way, how shall I see?” asked Stingy Jack. “Take this and be gone, to roam the earth for eternity” shouted the devil as he threw Stingy Jack an ever burning ember from the fires of hell. Stingy Jack took the ember and put it in the only thing he had to carry it in, a half eaten turnip, and made his way back to earth to roam forever in misery and loneliness.

Since there is but one night a year that the spirits are allowed to cause great mischievousness the people of the county began to carve turnips into the likeness of the devil and place burning embers into them to ward off Stingy Jack on All Hallows Eve. As people began to move from Ireland to the United States, turnips worthy of carving were hard to find, but pumpkins were prevalent, so they carried on their tradition by carving pumpkins into Jack O Lanterns to ward off Stingy Jack and his turnip lantern, and that is how they say the tradition of pumpkin carving was started for Halloween.

As I carve my Jack O Lantern this year and every year, I like to think about the tale of Stingy Jack, and rather than using it to ward off Stingy Jack, I let it be a reminder to me not to be like him, but rather to live in a good and pleasing way.

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

3 comments so far

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1939 posts in 5125 days

#1 posted 10-31-2010 03:35 PM


-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View degoose's profile


7287 posts in 4808 days

#2 posted 10-31-2010 09:14 PM

A story worth reading and a moral to the story as well..

-- Be safe.

View Pawky's profile


278 posts in 4257 days

#3 posted 11-01-2010 05:06 AM

Thank you for sharing the story. I really enjoyed it as with your carving as well.

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