We still recall that back around 1949 when we were in grammar school, it seemed that Thanksgiving had a special deep-down feeling of love, warmth, and a special deep-down feeling for family members and the well-being of others in our local area.
I recall so many times that the week leading up to Thanksgiving was a very special time at Franklin Grammar School. In our history classes, we were reading and talking of the events of our Pilgrim Fathers and the Pilgrim colony of Plymouth, Mass., and all the events that led up to the first Thanksgiving feast and celebration. In our artwork, we were drawing big tom turkeys with large sets of tail feathers and woven horns of plenty, filled with an abundance of fresh fruit.
These types of objects were a lot of fun to color with our crayons and some of us could use watercolor to bring these Thanksgiving items to life. The teacher even showed us how to make Pilgrim-type black hats out of construction-type colored paper and then glued them together. We even made Thanksgiving cards for our parents and some of us made decorations for the Thanksgiving Day dinner table at our homes. I truly think that back in those days, we had a more carefree time, and lot less stress at school and in our everyday lifestyle at home.
We both recall that at each of our homes during the seven days before Thanksgiving, our parents were making preparations for a great Thanksgiving dinner at our home with all our aunts, uncles, and cousins. Or our parents were both making and baking all kinds of pastries, such as pumpkin pies, blueberry pies, apple pies, and her mom made real nice old-fashioned mincemeat pies, which everyone loved.
I can still see my mother making her own pie crust from scratch. Her pie crust was always flaky and mouthwatering to one’s taste. With this pie crust she would make these special tarts and fill them with a big spoonful of her homemade jelly or jam. Everyone loved them with a hot cup of coffee or tea, and us children liked them with a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of cocoa.
I still remember helping my mother shell all the walnuts and chopping them into small pieces for the walnut cake she used to make on some holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. This walnut cake was so delicious and stayed so moist for a long time and would keep for over a week. But I remember so often that walnut cake would be consumed that day, or other people wanted to take some of the walnut cake back home with them. I recall that some of my parents’ close friends would always say, “All I want for my Christmas or birthday is one of your walnut cakes with a white buttercream frosting.”
I recall like it was yesterday that if it was a real cold day us children and cousins would sit on the living room floor around the old cast-iron potbelly coal stove and play games like Chinese checkers or just a game of checkers. Those days, there was not TV to watch; we could only listen to the radio. Sometimes at my grandmother’s home, my mother would play the piano and all the aunts and uncles would gather around and sing some of the old-time songs of bygone days. We both still have our old checkers board and our Chinese checker board and marbles some 70 years later. I used to play checkers with my grandchildren on these same boards that are well over 70 years old.
Sometimes my father and the other men would play a game of dominoes. All my father’s brothers enjoyed playing the game.
My dad and his two brothers were sportsmen and enjoyed the deer-hunting season in November. They usually all got a deer. So naturally they would all sit around the living room after a great and scrumptious fine Thanksgiving dinner and they would all talk about their deer-hunting experience that November.
My dad and his brothers were all good hunters and fine marksmen and often practiced target-shooting; their wives also were good cooks and would always make a certain amount of mincemeat from the excess meat of their husbands’ deer.
One of my aunts would always make a number of her favorite mincemeat-filled sugar cookies. They were all enjoyed by everyone in our family. I especially enjoyed having one of these cookies in my school lunch box. We both recall we all enjoyed our homemade scarves, mittens, and beautiful hand-knit wool pullover sweaters that were all made by my aunts. Sometimes, if the cold weather set in early in late October and early November, we would have three or four inches of ice on our small pond, and we would enjoy ice skating and wearing our wool socks inside our ice skates and our nice wool sweaters with a nice wool scarf wrapped around our neck. These are enjoyable memories to the both of us as young children. Back in the late 1940s, it was common to have snow on the ground by Thanksgiving and it was just a way of life back in those years.
My mother would have her window boxes filled with bright red berries and pine or fir evergreens. We both recall that some of the blue jays would love to eat the red berries out of the window boxes. Once I recall at home we heard the light tapping on the den windows, and the next morning my father saw the imprints of deer feet under the window box.
All give thanks at Thanksgiving for living in a great country where all can have their religious freedom and all have the right of free speech. We show you a couple of old Thanksgiving postcards that are over or near 100 years old. God bless America. We have always been a great nation and have to be united as one for all, as our forefathers so often said. May the two parties work for the overall good of America.