Spooky Cajun ghost story about two boys’ misadventures in a haunted Louisiana pumpkin patch one Halloween. Written and told by Tom Coleman.
Patin’s Punkin Patch – Audio Story
“DON’T GO INTO PATIN’S PUMPKIN PATCH. THEY GOT TATIES IN THERE!”
How many times have I heard that growing up in South Louisiana? Seems like every time I’d turn around to go outside my momma and papa would tell me, “Don’t go into Patin’s Pumpkin Patch. They got taties in there!”
Now for those of you who don’t know, a tati is like a Cajun boogyman. They love to scare bad little childrens.
But I could never understand why outa all of the punkin patches in Acadia Parish, any Tati would want to live in Patin’s pumpkin patch. I mean, it was all overgrown with weeds. And the punkins were so villain – ugly, all twisted out of shape.
My papa used to tell me stories about old man Patin, and how he put a gris gris on his punkin patch – you know, an evil spell to keep the taties there.
He went out into that punkin patch one time a year, on Halloween night at midnight, to put a fresh gris gris on his field. Don’t never go into Patin’s punkin patch. They got Taties in there. Well, me and my best friend Shawee, decided we was too old to believe in taties anymore. So we was gonna play a trick on old man Patin.
We sneaked into his punkin patch on Halloween night and we was gonna take our pocket knives and carve some Jack O’ Lanterns out of them old scraggly punkins. Yeah, we was gonna fool old Patin into thinking that the Halloweenies had passed, and scare him real good.
We sat down with a couple of punkins and was just about to carve them up when we heard a noise, like something moving in the field. Me and Shawee stopped what we was doing and looked into the field. It was a full moom so we could see everything like it was daytime. But we couldn’t see what was moving.
So I sat back down and was fixin to start cutting when I saw that someone had already carved a scary face into that punkin. I was surprised, but when I looked closer at it, it didn’t look like it was carved at all. It looked different.
Then all of a sudden that punkin blinked! I jumped to my feet and threw that punkin down. That old punkin face started getting meaner and meaner, and that thing started rocking back and forth, like something was coming out of the ground and pushing it. Then I saw that every punkin in that field was moving from side to side.
They rocked so hard that they started popping loose from their vines. Then they started rolling. That whole field was moving now. Rolling toward me and Shawee.
You think we ran?
Flame de cheu cabris! We ran like a goat with our tail on fire!
Them punkins started chasing us, rolling right behind us. We ran through that field towards the town. We heard that rumbling sound like an earthquake, and I looked back over my shoulder, and saw a mountain of punkins tumbling toward us; each one of them had a mean, scary face. And their mouths were getting bigger and bigger like they was gonna swallow us whole!
Shawee and me ran toward the big dith at the edge of the field as fast as we could. We ran down the side of that ditch with all these punkins close behind. But they could roll down faster than we could run and I felt tham big orange things hitting the back of my boots. I knew we was done for. But then we started running up the other side of the ditch. Now those punkins could roll uphill as fast as they rolled down, so when we finally reached the top of the other side, me and Shawee finally stopped and looked back. The punkins that had rolled up this side were rolling back down. We made it.
But then we saw the punkins roll back up the other side and then back up this one, each time getting higher and higher. They were trying to get over this side!
Me and Shawee started running toward town, screaming at the top of our lungs, “HELP ME! SAVE ME! PATIN’S PUNKINS ARE TRYING TO EAT ME!”
We ran straight to the fire hall where there was a bunch of men sitting outside playing cards. When they heard our screams, they didn’t laugh or ask any questions. Instead they ran into the fire hall and grabbed those big chopping axes, and then they ran back toward Patin’s field.
We finally caught up to them in the ditch where they were smashing all of those punkins with their axes. When they had busted up every last one, they went into Patin’s patch and set that whole field on fire.
It was the biggest fire me and Shawee ever saw. That black smoke curled up to the sky and completely blocked out that full moon.
Now I’m gonna tell you something, and if you doon’t believe me you can ask Shawee. But above the roar of that flame we heard screams, hundreds of screams rising up from that smoke. Oooh, it gives me the frissons just thinking about it right now.
Now old man Patin was never seen again since that night. Some people say he ran away, some think that something bad happened to him. And that punkin patch? Well, it never grew another punkin since then. In fact, if you go to Acadia Parish today, you won’t find another punkin patch anywhere around there. But if you ask somebody around there where old Patin’s field is, they sure can tell you. But they also gonna tell you:
“DON’T GO INTO PATIN’S PUNKIN PATCH. THEY STILL GOT TATIE’S IN THERE!”
-THE END –
Teachers can download instructional materials based on this story and others on our Lesson Plans page.
Patin’s Punkin Patch – Story Credits
Written and Told by Tom Coleman
Taken from the CD “A Tour of Southern Ghosts”
Copyright 2000 Art Station
Used by permission
We’ll let storyteller Tom Coleman tell you where this story came from:
“A few of us liars, or if you prefer, storytellers were sitting around talking one evening, and I mentioned that I once lived in the sweet potato capital of the world – Opelousas, Louisiana. We began to talk about other forms of agriculture around the Cajun area and I made mention that no one that I knew grew pumpkins. At least, I had never seen a pumpkin patch in South Louisiana before. And that’s where the idea for this story came from.
The part about my Granny and that tatais (tah-tie) was true. She always warned us about going into dark areas. I think she may have been referring to spiders and such, but tatai was a pretty strong image to me in my youth and meant just about every type of creepy crawly or ghoul that could scare you.
Shawee is a common nickname around my hometown and actually means raccoon. It sounds like an Indian word; I don’t believe it’s Cajun. But my best friend’s name was actually John. He became Shawee for this story. The kicker is John and I would have probably done exactly what I described in the story, scare the old man just for fun.
The story was much longer and ended with how instead of pumpkins people began to plant sweet potatoes. They became haunted too, but didn’t cause so much of a scare.”