1. Archive

Jack's tale of turnips follows us into the present

Where did carved pumpkins get the name "jack-o'-lanterns?"A.


Response: From the Irish.

As the legend goes, a notorious drunk named Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree. Jack quickly carved a cross into the tree's trunk, which trapped Satan in his perch, and then made the devil promise never again to tempt him to sin.

When Jack died, he found himself barred from the comforts of heaven because of his many previous sins. But Satan, still miffed over the trickery, wouldn't let him into hell, either.

Forced to wander in frigid darkness until Judgment Day, Jack begged Satan for burning embers to light his way. All he got was a single glowing coal. Jack put the coal into a turnip he had chewed hollow to form Jack's lantern.

The Irish carried live coals in hollowed out turnips carved with demon's faces to celebrate All Hallows Eve on the night of Oct. 31. The original purpose of this festival (first celebrated by the ancient Celts in the fifth century B.C.) was to frighten away spirits who had died the previous year and who assembled that night to choose the body of the person or animal they would inhabit for the next 12 months before they could pass peacefully into the afterlife.

When the Irish arrived in America, they found few turnips but lots of pumpkins.

Paper delivered to door

My daughter called the St. Petersburg Times and asked to have my newspaper delivered to my door as I am 97 years old and am not able to go out into the yard to get it. So it came to the door for three or four days and now yesterday and today it was out in the yard and a neighbor had to get it for me.

If it can't be delivered by the door, I'll have to cancel it.

Alice Rudder

Response: The manager of your delivery district has informed your carrier about your complaint and, starting immediately, your request will be honored.

Read the agreement

I signed a listing agreement with a real estate agent. I plan to cancel it on the expiration date but I notice now that the agreement contains a 360-day "protection period."

I would not have accepted that had I read the contract in detail before signing because this means that the agent will be entitled to his commission if he has shown my property to a buyer who later returns to buy.

My question is, does the agent have to furnish me with a list of people he has shown the property to, and would that include telephone inquiries? How would I know who is covered by this protection period?

Mrs. M. Cogan

Response: According to Lori King, public information director at the state Department of Regulation, real estate agents do not have to show you any such list. In fact, if a home buyer is attracted to a house because they saw the real estate agent's sign on the lawn when the contract was in effect or heard about it through word of mouth or in any other way that might have resulted from the listing, then that could lead to a commission being paid.

The law does not address listing agreements as far as licensing is concerned, she said.

Her advice to sellers is to read the contract very carefully and have it checked by a real estate lawyer before signing. Be aware up front of what the agent expects to get. All terms are negotiable, and you do not have to accept the contract as written.

You can, for example, negotiate for a lower commission, more extensive advertising or other services. You might wish to limit the contract period to 90 days or reserve the right to cancel the contract upon reasonable notice.

If you don't get what you want, shop around.


As a member of Bat Conservation International, I would like to compliment you on your knowledgeable and humane answer to Jackie Smith in response to her question of how to get rid of bats.

Nola McKinstry

Without your help I wouldn't have received the check from Medicare for $286 on Dr. Moench's bill.

Again, many thanks.

Earl E. Poe