Pineapples and murder?
From prosperity in the East to hospitality in the West, the pineapple is a positive symbol around the world. But when I was a child, the pineapple symbolized mystery and murder.
The historic and infamous Glensheen Mansion – along the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota – is a trove of pineapples. Pineapples carved in the woodwork and furnishings. Pineapples hanging from light fixtures. Pineapples decorating stairwells and entryways. Symbols of welcome throughout the eerie 38-room home.
While the pineapples caught my eye as a child, it was the whispers that intrigued me. A decade earlier, in 1977, a nurse was killed with a candlestick holder as she confronted an intruder on the elaborate, central staircase. Moments later, the intruder entered a second-floor bedroom and smothered the 83-year old heiress, Elisabeth Congdon, with a pillow from her bed. A Clue-like event intentionally left out from the tour, but clearly on everyone’s mind.
Luckily, a sinister association of a child’s imagination is only temporary.
Seeing pineapples of all different shapes and colors in Penang during Chinese New Year – representing a prosperous future – is a reminder of the powerful symbol of the fruit.