August 1992 “Tiger Tales”

Forerunner To The “Great Pumpkin Roll”
(An Eyewitness Account)
by Bob Mercer, Class of ‘42

Back in the late 30’s, several irreverent future alumni from the north end of town
were wracking their brains for a use for some of the scrap tires piled behind Hern’s Texaco Station. (The beginning of recycling?)

The idea of rolling a tire down Grove Hill sounded challenging, exciting, and fun.
After all, hadn’t the WPA spent thousands of dollars to pave the hill and ruin the best bobsled track around? Could they get a tire to roll straight, and how far would it go down Main Street? There was only one way to find out. Several were lugged up the hill. It was decided to wait until quite late (at least 9:30) so that most of the solid citizens would be home and off the streets. No sense attracting attention. People might not understand.
The first test proved to be inconclusive. Hitting the curb at midbridge, the tire bounced over the railing and into the river. The second try, given the greater initial thrust, rolled straight and true, gathered tremendous speed, and followed the centerline all the way through town. It was last seen crossing the intersectionof Main and East Washington.
They decided it would take at least 2 out of 3 to prove anything, so a third missile was launched. It, too, rolled straight and true and reached escape velocity. However, as in most scientific experiments, and unforeseen problem arose. A car pulled out of E. Orange Street directly into the path of the missile. KABLAAAMM!!!

Broadside, right between the front and rear doors. No one was hurt and the car
suffered only minor damage (they don’t make them like that anymore); but needless to say, all those future scientists scattered and the sound of police sirens put an abrupt end to any future thoughts of this nature.


ORIGIN OF THE GREAT PUMPKIN ROLL
(The Final Word) Aug. ‘02
by Mike Solether ‘69

Concerning the recent controversy regarding the origin of the “Great Pumpkin Roll,” it is my intention to clarify beyond any doubt that the Class of 1969 unwittingly began this tradition in the fall of 1967. Recently, participants in this Charter event have come forward confirming the above claim, and they wish tobe identified for historical purposes as being there. Further, the Class of 1969 did not act alone, a point which insured that the perpetuation of the roll would continue into the future.

Let me again take you back to the fall of 1967. Every year about this time mischief-makers had acted individually or in small groups to gather pumpkins or other rollable items to observe this physics experiment of gravity at work. Not this time. A group of the Class of 1969 had set a goal to collect 69 pumpkins to roll down Grove Hill in one colossal dump. Unknowingly, Steve and Allen Leach became the leaders of this secret undertaking. With the help of many members of the class, pumpkins were summarily stolen and deposited in the Leach’s barn on Falls Road. Watching what was taking place was the Leach twins’ younger brother, Richard. Intrigued by what was happening, he and other members of the Class of 1971 began to participate in the gathering of pumpkins. As a result of their efforts, they were allowed to be included in the big event. Their involvement, I believe, caused the perpetuation of the roll. Finally the time had come. The Leaches and Kim Lapick both had identical blue Country Squire station wagons. The pumpkins were loaded into the back of the vehicles, and they set out for their destiny with history. Along with this group of 69’ers were members of the Class of 1971, Richard Leach, Paul Snavely and Kinney deHamel, Class of 1970. When the coast was clear, they backed to the top of Grove Hill, opened the tailgates and let loose the pumpkins. When unloaded, they sped away full of the joy of a mission well done. Talk of even bigger and better rolls was already underway.


Pumpkin Roll Hill
Lyrics by Luckay (Tom Luckay ’64)

My truck’s big empty bed I’m going to fill
With pumpkins from a porch or windowsill.
And take them to the crest of old Grove Hill
Where they’ll be released in a massive spill.

Roll those pumpkins,
Catch a thrill!
Roll those pumpkins,
In the chill!
Ride that pumpkin swill
Down Pumpkin Roll Hill!

The fun of the challenge is don’t get caught,
Because most of the pumpkins have not been bought.
The quest of adventure is all that’s sought,
While “Safety First” is an afterthought.

Roll those pumpkins,
Catch a thrill!
Roll those pumpkins,
In the chill!
Ride that pumpkin swill
Down Pumpkin Roll Hill!

Chagrin’s fine folks say that it’s got to stop.
Someone’s gonna get hurt when they take a flop,
Sliding down Grove Hill in that pulpy slop.
Either knock it off, or we’ll call a cop!

Roll those pumpkins,
Catch a thrill!
Roll those pumpkins,
In the chill!
Ride that pumpkin swill
Down Pumpkin Roll Hill!

©2007 Thomas M. Luckay