It's that time again.
Every year, I try to figure out just which Hallowe'en folktale you might like to hear.
Remember I have a History degree and I have always lived in the older parts of OKC or Atlanta, so I know a bunch of stories. I have a pretty big curiousity about things, and like the chance to sleuth a detail, friends say.
Some stories here are true and some kinda true and some not true at all. (lets see if you can figure out which one this one is.)
The first year I was writing here, it was Sweet Audena. The second year it was about the elevator in my office.
This one is for my one and only daughter, Allyson.
So on with the show.
Now my Granny is 104 years old. And in the late 1920's, that's a long time ago, my Granny lived kind of near the old Kamp's grocer down off North Classen Boulevard in a boarding house with many other 20 something females.
One day, when visiting in OKC, she started talking together with an older woman and they did indeed appear to know know each other from way back.
Back in the day when a streetcar ran on Classen, and there were still cars and horses on the road together. Back in the day when Memorial Park was mostly a lake to canoe in and play your ukulele and sing to your sweetheart. You heard right. Lakes, horses, streetcar. Ukulele.
Both women, my Granny and the old woman, they talked on... This conversation took place back in the 1970's, so that's awhile ago too. I was probably around 9 or so. I wasn't supposed to be listening... or rather I wasn't invited directly into the conversation.
My Grandmother had often remarked on living in a big old house that was a boarding house on the East side of Classen Boulevard, a big old house built in 1905 when she was living in Oklahoma City before she married my Grandfather and moved back to Tulsa. She had pointed out the house often on visits here, but I had never met anyone who knew her during that time.
So the women were talking and the story was that it was Fall and the weather pleasant. Something about them coming out the door of the boarding house onto the big wooden porch.... and then seeing what they thought was a girl who was bent down, carefully removing something from a vine and stuffing her pockets to bursting.
The girl was very small and very thin, with long thin fingers. Her skin was luminescent and she was very clean. Too clean to be a child. Her fingertips were stained a deep purple. Her hair was short and jet black with big curls or maybe a sleek short bob and a flat headband. They women couldn't agree on the girl's hair. The girl had on a dress that looked like tied scarves all shades of sparkling lavender and the purest of pure white with tiny silvery beads rimming the floating hem. Her shoes floated around her feet like smokey curls of dust.
At the time, both women thought the girl was plucking some odd fruit or vegetable, like those Japanese eggplants... ( but that didn't exist in the 1920's) and then the girl saw them, she turned and ran off leaving a trail of white orbs that bounced one by one from her very full pockets.
The woman nudged my Granny's arm and said with a chuckle, "Remember when we figured out it was an eyeball vine?" Both women smiled. They didn't say too much more, and gave one another a simple hug... and parted ways. They never saw each other again that I know of.
An eyeball vine? ??? I thought to myself. I have to ask about that.
Later, I asked my Granny.
My Granny said, that the woman explained to her long ago that in the Fall, along both the Classen Boulevard and Western Avenue, a vine, known as a sweet potato vine would grow....except it wasn't a sweet potato vine. The flowers were often mistaken for the Morning Glory, which comes on about the same time. But they are smaller with a deep purple-blue center. Morning Glories only bloom in the morning and are usually blue, or magenta. This was not that.
The eyeball vine, well it produces eyeballs... eyeball gumballs.Yup. You heard that right.
The woman went on to explain to my Granny that the girl was indeed NOT a girl. Well, not human girl, anyway.
The little sprite like girl would pluck the eyeball gumballs and would duck away with them, wrap ever so lightly in cellophane paper and gently, oh so gently return them to be harvested to be used for Trick or Treat on Hallowe'en.
The sprite girl has, this kind of look you can't forget. Kind of this Tinkerbell mixed with that daughter from Beetlejuice thing going on. and so they are kind of shadowy........ and kind of light, it sounded like. And they never talk. But they do giggle. Alot.
The eyeball vines themselves are distinctive, and once they begin to produce, they do what they do well. But there has to be a portal for the sprite-girl to arrive, for the eyeball gumball vine to WANT to make eyeball gumballs. So you have to have the vine, the portal, the flowers, the gumballs and the sprite-girl and THEN you get the wrapped eyeball gumballs so many of us love at Hallowe'en.
The sprite-girl.. pfft....who knows where she comes from? ....... she isn't.... they aren't........ really dressed for the weather, here if you get my drift. They aren't from around these parts. They come from somewhere, and they have to get here from there....somehow. And back. See they don't wear coats and boots or gloves or anything and it DOES get that cold here sometimes close to Hallowe'en. The woman had told my Granny that you have to look for a portal. Look for a portal,where the girls come and go. Hmmm.
So from that time forward, I looked and looked for this vine, or the sprite-girls or the portal and I never found it. I looked in Atlanta, never saw one. I looked in North Carolina... I really was beginning to think it wasn't true. Eyeball gumball vine. Pfft.
When I moved back here to Oklahoma City... about a year into it all..... in the Fall of 2011, I sat down one day at the bus stop. Yes, the I ride the MetroTransit OKC... and by golly.... I looked up at the sign and saw a very old brass doorknob sticking out of the MetroTransitOKC sign there. Really. I took a picture of it. Surely you see that?
Now the stop I sit at is in front of Heirloom Shoes. On Western Avenue. In North Oklahoma City.
And on that day, that day when I saw the knob in the MetroTransitOKC sign, I turned to look in all directions because it occurred to me that this was maybe a place I might see the eyeball gumball vine... that looks like the sweet potato vine and sure enough... there it was. I took a picture of it. Did you see it?
Now this probably doesn't make nearly as much sense to you as it does to me, but Heirloom Shoes, well they are a fancy shoe store, (kind of like the shoe store my Granny was associated with in Tulsa ... Cinderella Bootery, a fancy shoe store from the past......) So it made sense to me that if the sprite girls with no shoes would hang out where the shoe lady was before, a sprite girl might hang out where the coolest shoe store is now. ( i.e they the sprite girls are probably closet shoe hounds like the rest of us.)
So I started to watch that sweetpotato vines outside Heirloom Shoes to see if it was hiding, pretending as an eyeball gumball vine or if it was the real thing.... and I watched for weeks.
Sure enough if you get there early in the morning, sometime before 10am but probably not before 9am you can see the flowers burping out those eyeball gumballs just in time for Hallowe'en. Well. OR maybe you would only see the finished product. The wrapped gumballs there, lying around. Yep. It's so.
You don't want to get there too early, because the sprite girls have to come down from that sign for the MetroTransitOKC and creep over to the plant and pluck those eyeball gumballs out, collect them, run off and wrap them and carefully return them to the whereabouts of their birth.
Now you are free to take those eyeball gumballs, and take them with you, once they are wrapped.
This harvesting starts just before Hallowe'en, in plenty of time for harvest to fill up those holiday candy dishes. Did you see mine? I took a picure of it. Absolutely teeming with eyeball gumballs. My aren't they delicious!?
But there are only two rules about eyeball gumball vines. Never, no never, ever take the last eyeball gumball. And never, never ever take the ones that are not wrapped. Because if you take the unwrapped one or you take the last one, you might disappear into the portal like the sprite girls.....
Best to just leave that last one, just like I did. I took a picture of it... Did you see it?
And be sure to check around again next October to see if it happens all over again.