Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving Tales By Aunt CB

Thanks-giving day is coming up and these days that gets us thinking of turkeys. It wasn’t always so!

Back in the 1930's, Depression days, turkeys weren’t on everyone's table. Jack’s father raised them so he knew them well, but I don’t ever remember having a turkey dinner until I was eleven years old and this was at Uncle Floyd Taylor’s for Thanksgiving.

He ran a grocery store and what a feast we had that year at his house! Besides turkey, dressing, gravy , we had mashed potatoes, squash, cabbage salad, celery, olives, radishes and cranberry conserve. All this was topped off with cake, sherbet, candy and nuts!

We paid a price for it though, snow had fallen all day and as we drove home to Geneva, by Rt. 5 and 20 (no thruway then) we inched our way along, Daddy driving and Ruth hanging out the passenger window, trying to see the side of the road and clear the windshield simultaneously. Those were cold drives!

Our usual Thanksgiving dinner was venison and maybe a chicken with it. We kept chickens at our house and while we had a pet rooster, Tommy, who came in the kitchen every Sunday morning before we went to Sunday School, (and yes, he usually pooped on the floor in his excitement!) we made sure we never made a pet of a hen. One doesn’t make friends with what may end up in one's pot..

We usually had Thanksgiving with the Taylor side of the family. Late November was too chancy for the roads in the hill country of Center Lisle and the beloved Bakers. I remember Mom usually brought pies, she was a grand pie maker!

And one year at Aunt Emily’s (she married B.W. and therefore was our step grandmother) she introduced us to the novelty of radish roses! (radishes slit so that ice water forms rose-like petals) She was a very caring person.

But the Thanksgiving I remember best was one at her house, 40 Porter Avenue, Batavia.. As we all crowded around the oval dining room table, laden with all sorts of succulent dishes, we bowed our heads for the usual grace before meals. “Bless this food to our use, O Lord, and us to thy service,” Grandpa B.W. intoned, and then added, “and let us each tell what we are thankful for?” My blood ran cold, for what WAS I thankful for?

Each thought that occurred to me seemed to be spirited away by someone before me. Uncle Leon was thankful for family, Aunt Clara spoke of the full table (on which dishes I knew were getting cold!). Harold, two seats from me squeaked out being thankful for new sneakers, and I knew he was, for his toes had stuck out of his others all fall! I thought to say thanks for the sunny day, but Doris, beside me, grabbed that thought so there I was, my turn and speechless!

What on earth WAS I thankful for–and then it popped into my head! Of course, I was thankful for those lovely radish roses, the very ones that Aunt Emily had spent an hour specially making for us. Doris smirked at my choice, but I didn’t care, for Aunt Emily had given me a big smile, so big that I could see her gold tooth in her mouth. I knew I’d pleased someone and God knew how thankful I was to have thought of a subject!

The above picture is of ( left to right) Arnon, Leon Taylor, B.W. Taylor, Harold, Doris, Ruth, Clara T.Burt (wearing hat), Lucille, Esther, Emily Taylor, Ethel Taylor, Mary A. Taylor.


Pat said...

I read this quote and just had to laugh out loud:

"The Washington-based ' National Turkey Federation ' says that protein-rich turkey meat can "improve your mood naturally ... a turkey sandwich before a meeting is much more likely to boost alertness than a plain bagel or candy bar."

Now, I do not know how Thanksgiving at all of my cousins' homes end, but I do know how it used to end at 2846.

The turkey enzymes would hit people differently--the young 'uns would go out and play hockey in our driveway, with the vast majority of the other attendees finding couches, chairs, or the floor to conk out due to the 'turkey daze'.

One Thanksgiving, Rose and I and a few others were talking up in the library, with dozens of bodies snoring downstairs in the living room. I heard the front door open--a hockey player back in to get warm, no doubt,and then small steps going from room to room, then suddenly pounding up the stairs.

A wide eyed Nick, age about eight, gasping for breath, finally shouted, 'Mom, there are dead bodies everywhere I look!!'

Yup, Thanksgiving at the Kinsellas.

Sue Kinsella said...

I don't know if it was the same as Nick's Thanksgiving of dead people, but I do remember succumbing one year and falling asleep on the floor in the living room at 2846. Usually I wasn't one of the sleepers, but that year the turkey must have been especially potent. I woke up a couple hours later shocked that I could have gotten comfortable on the floor but feeling wrapped in family, as father, brothers, cousins, and other assorted special people all snoozed around me.

Sue Kinsella said...

I just want to say again how much I appreciate these stories that Mom is writing about our shared family history. Despite thousands of times when I asked when I was little, "Tell me about when you were a kid!" and getting wonderful stories then, the stories - and pictures - she has been putting on this blog now are all new to me. Such treasures!

So Mom and Uncle Harold, a continuous loop: "Tell me a story about when you were a kid!" Thank you so much.

Julie Riber said...

Most of my memories center around what was on the table, not on the couches afterward since there wasn't a lot of room to recline. We usually spent Thanksgiving dinners at Uncle Larry and Aunt Edna Lochner. They had 8 kids and with 5 in ours we had quite a spread. Aunt Edna was an awesome cook. Meals always consisted of the usual. In addition I've come to believe that besides the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy there has to be sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green bean casserole, Parkerhouse rolls and jellied cranberry sauce straight out of the can. Mom used to always bring green jello w/cottage cheese and pineapple and/or orange jello w/shredded carrots and celery. I'll pass on that today.

More recent memories are of a Thanksgiving we had right here in Louviers. There were 10 of us around the table, including my girlfriend's 80 year-old mother. Wes had eaten his fill and was headed off to take a potty break. He slowly walked around the table and off toward the bathroom when all of a sudden Ma let out a blood-curdling scream. The smell that followed my husband was enough to clear the room as we threw open the patio door, all gasping for fresh air. Since then, Wes is not allowed to eat turkey unless he does so outside.

Nance said...

Omigosh! Wes is part of the family! And I thought that was just Taylor tradition!

The boys in my family always had to see who could come up with the noisiest, most raunchy after-dnner noisemaker -- and we always exited the area very quickly to get some fresh air! If they lined up their rearend in your direction -- get out of the way quick! Boy, and when they got together with Uncle Harold -- wait a minute, who taught who here?!

Gee, I miss all those "quality" moments we used to share!