Can a Pumpkin Save a Job?

A punkin saved his job

James Whitcomb Riley wrote poems for the”The Indianapolis Journal”  in late 1870’s.  According to his biographer, John A Howland, a new editor wanted “to cut down on expenses of the paper, and he was considering Riley as his first victim to get the ax.”  Riley had just published the poem below.  It was fall and election time.  A party convention was held in Indianapolis.  A politician there got stage fright and blurted out Riley’s recent contribution to the Journal:  (We’re) going to win the election “when the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”.  The audience recognized the heartfelt words from the paper and applauded.  Howland doesn’t tell us if the politician’s party won the election, but Riley did keep his job.  He went on to become a popular and wealthy poet speaking for the nation’s heartland.

The fall season, with its signal of change and chill, has a lesson for all of us.  Change will come.  Your future may be decided not by the big picture,  by a small act that helped others.  Do not neglect the small acts today in securing your future career.


When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and the gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’; of the guineys and the cluckin’ of the hens
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O it’s then the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock

They’s somethin kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here –
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny monring of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock –
When the frost is on the punkin and fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries – kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A preachin’ sermons to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below – the clover overhead! –
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too!
I don’t know how to tell it – but if sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me –
I’d want to ‘commodate ’em – all the whole-indurin’ flock –
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!


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