World’s Largest Pumpkin

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Charles Houghton Jr.’s father, Charles Sr., grew a pumpkin that broke the world record for largest pumpkin.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS’S Garden Essay Contest, titled “Why We Dig Gardening,” prompted many responses — here is one of our favorites!

I remember with horror being awakened as a child on Saturday mornings at 6:30 to weed the garden. I could never understand my father’s pride in his garden.

My father and I lost track of each other for several years. But we were reunited when I purchased my great-grandfather’s 1920s farmhouse from my dad. Soon I was planting my own small garden. My interest sparked Dad’s interest in me. He and I worked together to reclaim a three-acre parcel of the land in order to open a vegetable stand. These were awesome gardens!

My father’s obsession with growing giant pumpkins blossomed into his life’s ambition — to grow the world’s largest pumpkin. Even after being diagnosed with cancer, he maintained those pumpkins. My dad was in the hospital when he heard the news that he had broken the world record with a whopping 1,337-pound pumpkin (see Image Gallery.).

Scott Cully, a professional pumpkin sculptor, contacted us about carving the great beast. That monster was carved and ready for the Guinness World Record cameras before Halloween in 2002. Dad was so proud as he sat with his great carved pumpkin for the news crew. He died in August 2003, having been a great father, husband, grandfather and friend. As for me, I continue to grow my garden every year and try to inspire interest in my son and daughter.

Sometimes when my family and I are gathered around the food that I have grown, I have a sense that my father is present. I hope that my children feel their grandfather’s, as well as their father’s, love for them.

Charles Houghton Jr.
Weare, New Hampshire