By ALLEN RAU
For 20 years, Marcy Hawley stationed a gigantic, real pumpkin on the front porch of the Hawley House.
“Every year, for as long as we’ve had the Hawley House, we have had the largest pumpkin in the whole area,” Hawley said recently. “And we get the pumpkin from Fenders Farm. Every year I’d pay $40 or $50 for the pumpkin, but I’d been getting them for 20 years.”
She even had a local pig farmer who would pick up the remains for her. However, once he stopped his “disposal” service, the task of removing the decaying giant became a real issue.
“We would try to get the pumpkin across the street into the area where the town would pick up brush,” Hawley said.
“But I’ve had times where I would get the pumpkin off the porch and it would roll down the street and land on the railroad tracks. So the pumpkin has always been an issue.”
Not to mention purchasing the largest pumpkin around is not exactly cheap. So Hawley came up with an idea to make a paper-mache model to use every year.
Her plan was to use one of the large live pumpkins as a model and when the paper strips dried, cut the mold off, remove the live pumpkin and then put the sections back together.
“I had the biggest mess you have ever seen. Well, I was telling somebody that story at the Storytelling Center, and David (Kehs) apparently overheard me,” Hawley said.
“So in August, Dana (Kehs) called and wanted to know if I’d be home and said that David had something for me. They came over and they had that pumpkin he made for me.”
Local artist and Hawley’s friend David Kehs constructed a giant, extremely lifelike pumpkin out of packing foam.
“A local (hardware) company moves big blocks of pristine styrofoam using chunks of packing Styrofoam to pack it so it doesn’t get damaged. And then they just throw it away. So I was over there on another mission, and somebody said ‘Well, we’ve got trailers full of the stuff.’ I came home, free for nothing, with all this Styrofoam I could use,” Kehs said.
“So basically I just cut a bunch of rings, glued them together with expanding foam used to patch cracks, and then surprisingly enough, it does sand down pretty easily. Then I have all kinds of people give me their leftover house paint, and you just put layers and layers of that on there so it develops a skin. Then you go for a final color and then just coat it out with a water-based polyurethane.”
Although the foam pumpkin may sound easy enough to tote around, the size makes it awkward to handle. But it still beats trying to haul a decaying pumpkin down the street.
As Hawley said, “Now with David’s pumpkin we just have to find a place to store it in the winter.”
Kehs said he retired from the sign business a while ago, but he had some experience working with high-density foam before he left. The business he and his wife Dana run, David Kehs Designs, has used foam to construct different sculptures ranging from ice cream cones to hot dogs to four foot tall Bishops.
He also includes painting among his artistic skills.
But the work of art he created for his friend will certainly be admired by all who pass by and wonder whether Hawley has returned to using the real thing due to the realistic appearance.
“She’s been a good friend of the family,” Kehs said. “She was so tickled with it.”