Random Thoughts

Turkey memories

... they don't make mothers like mine anymore

by Eleanor Jenkins

November is Thanksgiving Month. Thinking about this holiday, I can recall many Thanksgivings in the past, but there are two that have been rather special for my family. Mom always said holidays are meant to be shared. And that is what she did for so many years. Two such occasions come to mind at this time. The first one I can’t give you my personal account of the day as I was only three months old, I am told I slept through most of it, but I have been told about that day many times.

It was 1929 and my cousin, Carolyn decided to get married on the eve of Thanksgiving. Apparently back in those days, Wednesday was a very common day for a wedding. She was living with my mother and father, my 6 year old brother and me at the time, so following the wedding, everyone would be returning to our home for the reception. The wedding, I am told, was beautiful, and the dinner was delicious served by my mother at our home. There were about 50 people there and my mother did all of the cooking.

The menu included everything you would expect at a Thanksgiving dinner. Roast turkey, stuffing (as it was called then), mashed potatoes, gravy, mashed buttered squash, parsnips, candied yams, celery stalks, cole slaw, canned corn, lima beans, and freshly made cranberry sauce. Dessert was minced meat pie, apple pie and pumpkin pie. Mom often told the tale of the minced pie, that instead of the Schnapps that she usually used, since the Baptist minister was also one of the guests, she used cider. Little did she know that it was hard cider and  then the minister asked for seconds? Then of course, there was the wedding cake and gallons of coffee. My mother repeated this same meal many times over the years.

Another outstanding year was during WWII. My brother, in the Navy, was in Oregon at Whitby Island and wouldn’t be home for the holiday so Mom gave our name and address to the USO and suggested that we could entertain at least three servicemen away from home on Thanksgiving.

Well, I was helping in the kitchen, we were almost finished with preparing the turkey for the oven. The turkeys then were not as oven-ready as they are today so we were going over the turkey inch by inch to remove the remains of the feather sacks that were left behind when the turkey was cleaned. It was three in the morning and we were just about finished when the doorbell rang. Who would be ringing our door bell at that hour? There standing on the doorstep were three young men in uniform on leave who the USO had given our address to as a place for them to share Thanksgiving.

They explained they had gotten lost, apologized for the hour, and wondered if it was still alright for them to come in. “Of course”, my mother said “I was just about to cook up the turkey livers for a sandwich. Would you want to join me?”

I recall one of the young men said that it was a favorite of his so he and mom shared the livers and we served something else to the other soldiers. Well, of course, the coffee pot went on the stove as well and mom busied herself to prepare sandwiches for these three young men as I went on to finish cleaning the turkey. Feeling well-fed, they went off to my brother’s bedroom for a nap until dinner would be served later that day.

Another feast prepared by my mother was shared with three lonely soldiers far away from home.

November 7, 2008

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