We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, November 18. 2012
Every Thanksgiving, we kids sang this merry song on the way to our Granny and Grampy's Connecticut house: four of us, bouncing in the back seat of the Chevy station wagon on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Their house was a mansion to us, filled with mysteries. Owl andirons with eyes, bathtubs with claw feet, a real ice box in the basement, a big family Bible from the 1700s, a jar of formaldehyde with a dissected human heart, old medical texts, Tiffany lamps, a Chickering grand piano, Persian rugs, the first EKG machine in Connecticut (German made, in a mahogany cabinet, which still worked and which works to this day), the rooms my Dad and Aunt grew up in with all of their books - and my Granny's Mom, sitting and knitting. She died at age 103. An old Yankee, raised on a hardscrabble farm and who worked as a nurse, she never said very much. She was half Iroquois (her Mom), and looked like an ancient squaw with her hair tied back.
They had a cranky, humorless Polish widowed cook called Mrs. Wos (which was an abbreviation of her last name which I never knew) who helped them in the kitchen and who would smack your hand hard with a spoon if you tried to grab something. Granny was not much of a cook, to put it mildly, but she would help Mrs. Wos when asked. Mrs. Wos kept a filled bird-feeder outside the kitchen window for entertainment, and banged on the glass when a squirrel got into it. Come to think of it, she banged all sorts of things: hands, windows, pots and pans, cabinet doors.
And they had an old widower black guy moved up from Mississippi who did chores and yard jobs, and helped with the garden - the sweetest and most dignified Christian guy you could ever know. "Uncle Ed," who my Granny called Mr. Evans, sang hymns while he worked, and read the Bible and philosophy (and W.E.B. DuBois and Albert Schweitzer) when he was off duty in his cozy apartment above the garage - with a wood stove (in addition to real heat) - and walls of bookshelves. He believed that fiction was the work of the Devil but he never refused whiskey.
Being alone in life, both family helpers joined us at the family tables for Thanksgiving dinner. Ed was always given the honor of offering the prayer which came from the depths of his heart. He went on for quite a while, as the soup got cold. Deep and yet simple, which are the things I still aspire to. He prayed for his country, for the enrichment of his and our spirits, for the soul of his dead wife, for his two boys in the service, and for the glory of creation.
I miss him because he was a dear buddy to me. He was the first black guy I knew. He had worked as a railroad Porter, and he said the railroad was the true friend of the black man. He knew the blues, and he knew the hymns. He taught me to fish, with great laughter and jollity. Bait-fishing from a rowboat, for food, with a bamboo pole. No fancy stuff. Long gone, now, but never forgotten.
Happy Thanksgiving, readers. Thanks to God, and God bless us, every one, living and gone - and our free country.
Photos: Station wagons were the SUVs of their time: if you had kids, you had one. '55 Chevy, of course. The '50 Buick? My grandparents drove theirs until the mid-1960s. Old people used to drive old cars. I recall theirs as having been brown, not black, but I couldn't swear to that. My Gramps, who was a doctor, totalled it into a tree while making a house call late at night in a snowstorm at age 84. He was OK, but the car wasn't. Bought a white Oldsmobile with power windows and began to cut back on work and grumble about socialism and socialized medicine. Johnson was President, with Medicare on the table - and he accepted vegetables, flowers, firewood, and labor as payment from those without money. He felt his poorer patients would feel demeaned by charity, so he expected something. I remember a bushel basket of fresh-dug potatoes on his back porch, with a note scrawled "from Sam." Another time, a bushel basket of sweet corn.
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Good story, B. Happy Thanksgiving.
PS I knew that was a '55 Chevy at a glance --but cannot ID anything after the mid-60s except pick up trucks, and only a few of them. I wonder, is it me or is it the cars?
Great memory, Mr. B- thanks for sharing. I think it is representative of the true spirit of thanksgiving. Coming together of friends and family, a coming together of different cultures for all we have in common, and heartfelt thanks to God for life, country and family and everything else we may have.
The sad thing is that some of the people I work with at the University where I teach would see the following in your story: A Time of suppression (50s) patriarchy, explotation of immigrants and minorities, religious fanatics and depletion of resources and animals. Not to mention that you were celebrating a day that should be one of mourning. Sigh
I have given up trying to talk with them about it. I said have a good day off to those who can't see past their own prejudice, and Happy Thanksgiving to others who really wanted a Happy Thanksgiving.
By the way, I forgot to add:
Happy Thanksgiving to you Mr. B, Bird Dog and the rest of the Maggie's Farm crew!
I work in Queens NY, the most ethnically diverse county in the US, and today every immigrant was wishing every other immigrant a Happy Thanksgiving. And when I asked them, whether originally from China, Barbados, Poland, Africa (etc) -- they all told me they are having turkey tomorrow. I think Thanksgiving, an unexportable part of American culture, is the heart and soul of us.
Am just a trimmed fish think-tank idea-monger (hoo nose monsters when they fie-null-lee surface.) 2 bad lace-C tinks-tanks Mind Games seem to devolve N-2 translating board, less successful lives N-2 real life $ trans4s.
Prosperity-- something off witch to gain or 2 B A-ccrued from others n the name of yo failed genius selves. Wots yo scuse 4 yoselves?????????? B sure to cover resentful envy with plenty o put-downs, convincing others it's all 'bout your numbers and knot hour or some body's realitees.
Sher, your eyes b diss-tracted. U o' eye B blined. Hoo hoo
Riches cum from N-teg-ree-T?? Blast phem ee? Blast-o-cyst-o-corrupt-system-tee-tee?
Ter-key: the answer to opening (and locking) e-terkeys (hoo shud B heard but who R herded N2 wanderlessless/lustkess, neyborhood jams and jellies, likes 4 the jellies 2 mature two B a-precia-she-ated.)
Congrats and best wishes to hue-mun groom and bride. Love ya, stay positive, or at least N-tuch w/ the Divine Force of yer corner of the universe. She may b a minder/ reminder, but she's royal P-N-T-A, nonetheless. A royal pain and a royal loyal blue that needs 2 b more discriminately applied/ died/ good-byed... to everybody's loss... But move on, you and us. Staying in motion is the thang
I don't quite know how to respond to that comment. I'd better get back to the kitchen.
Well, on second thought, maybe consider going back on drugs?
Gratitude must be an excellent thing, because the lack of it is so ruinous of so much of the transcendant in a person's being.
The damage is inside and outside, and is gratuitous and pitiful. What Loophole said, the ''sad thing'', is a sad thing indeed. What can't be mal-ascribed to base motive?
To be so cynical, one must choose it. One must choose that line of thought against everything--even your mom and dad just wanted a baby, not actually you, and wanted that baby just because they thought it would improve them--yes, patricarchy, matriarchy, status-seeking, power-tripping. Even Jesus died on the Cross because he sought influence, and meant to guilt-trip the rest of us.
I fight this demon--the 'smirking demon'--all the time, and one of the things for which I'm thankful is that as time goes on, I best him more and more.
Thanks for a wonderful story, a short spell-binder of great simplicity, and one that brings back memories of my own for those times back in the 1940s and 1950s when America, at least, seemed sane and, sometimes, almost holy. Those were still the years when the country started almost at the city limits--in my case, Chicago, and a few miles farther out, you could smell the wonderful odors coming from all of the farms that seemd to roll right up into the far horizons.
Thanks for the comments. I believe that gratitude on our part is the correlate of God's grace. It's as close as we can come to it, and we cannot obtain it in abundance without God's input to us, fueling us.
But I am truly being called to the kitchen to mash the rutabagas, and if I don't come, She Who Must Be Obeyed will show no grace and smack me hard with a large spoon.
Ahh the memories. Mine are so similar from Thanksgivings in Pennsylvania. Our Mrs. Wos was a Mrs. Raines, who ruled the kitchen with an ironhand. Our "Uncle Ed" was "Old Uncle Joe," who actually was old and a great-great uncle.
Both my Grandmothers died before I or any of my cousins were born, so the Great Aunts filled in. Dinner was always at Great Aunt Betty's and Uncle Clydes's "mansion on the hill." A wonderful place with front stairs and back stairs and 3rd floors that at one time had been Victorian servant's quarters but by the time of my childhood had become these wonderful playrooms and storage rooms for old trunks full of fancy clothes and military uniforms and even "unmentionables."
In our family, whoever turned 12 that year was called on to say the Grace, followed by the real Grace by Old Uncle Joe. And like Mr. Evans he could go on and on and on. Great Aunt Betty solved the cold soup question by serving cold soup, vichyssoise.
At the end of the evening, Old Uncle Joe would retire to his room on the upper floor, always picking one of us to come and read his Bible verses to him as he fell asleep. But first he had to have his "green medicine." Great Aunt Betty was a teatotaller, so the "green medicine" was a euphemism for some kind of green liquor. And then we would all hike off to visit "Grandma B" who was Great Aunt Betty's mother and bedridden at a room in the back of the house. She would say, "who brings me lemon drops, c'mere my little one." And we would run up, drop our candies on the bed and scoot back. She seemed too much like the witches of fairy tales.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. God Bless our Troops. And thank you Maggie's Farms for your blog and the enjoyment and education it brings day after day.
Liked your story, Barrister. Thanks.
Here's a science link on more reasons to eat your turkey... http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v31/n5/abs/1300932a.html
Great story Mr. B.
Great story as well Sara.
Let us be thankful for what we are, and perhaps more especially, for what we are not.
A toast and long life to Liberty.
Buddy, that's a unique and esoteric Christology :)
'Why do you call me good? No one is good but the One alone.'
'Take this cup from me. But not my will, but yours be done.'
'What I can do you can do, and more.'
Have a great Thanksgiving!
The Day of the Lord is darkness, not light.
The harvest is near, the wheat is to be separated from the chaff!
Repent, undergo baptism for the remittance of sins!
So saith Grim John, a real guilt tripper.
The fact that Jesus was baptised by John Guilt Tripper created a problem for the early church, as why would the Only Son of the Living Light, a man just like us, only without sin, a perfect man, need to undergo this rite?Yet it seems to be a fact that he did. This should cause head scratching for some people today as well.
I have wasted my money.
I have gambled it away.
I have drunk it up.
I have gone with red dressed women.
I'm sunk. Finished.
I slink home.
Father welcomes me.
I'm not guilty. I have returned.
Good stuff, bob--poets all over the place these days--
Wonderfull tales and marvelous comments. I can go back to the '50s when everything seemed so solid and permanent. How both our lands, and people, have changed since that time.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, from a little Englander.
The river in the song is the Sudbury River, in Massachusetts. We used to cross it on the way to my parents' home on Thanksgiving when the children were little. They grew weary of our mentioning the connection every year.
But now my oldest has a daughter, three weeks old. He will start in on the same stories soon...
For that I am thankful, as it sums up so much of what is happy in my life.
Yes indeed, a sweet memory. I imagine just about everybody in the world can relate to the love for family, respect and affection for those around us, and the stubborn wisdom of our elders.
nice story mr. lawyer, all I can say is Jesus' return is closer today than yesterday.
A lovely story. My uncle had a dark blue Buick just like your photo. My sister and I were raised by a "colored" nursemaid who came to live with us when my sister was born in 1941. Louise lived with us until my parents sold their house in Chicago in 1962. During that period she had converted to Catholicism and when she later got her own tiny apartment in Hyde Park, probably near Obama's mansion, we got her a freezer which a loving young man who was manager of a supermarket nearby kept stocked for her. My sister and I paid for her supplies and later, when she was in her 90s, got her into a Catholic nursing home south of Chicago where she lived out her last years. She lived long enough to hold all of my children and my sister's, even my 22 year old daughter.
We had an old window washer named Bill who came about four times a year to do all the windows. That house had 67 windows. I know because I put up the storm windows in the fall and took them down in the spring.
Lovely memories. I wish I could have that house now but the neighborhood changed in the 60s and it is one of the murder capitals of Chicago now. It was one of the nicest parts of the city when I was growing up. My grandparents lived nearby but in an apartment. Their farm was about an hour south of the city and farmed by a tenant, whose father had farmed it before him and who earned enough to buy his own farm nearby. My father and I hunted pheasants there in the fall until I went away to college.
Happy Thanksgiving. It doesn't really seem real in California.
i CAN REMEMBRER MY UNCLE EDDIE GOING TO THE HOMES OF THE NEWELY MARRIED OFF SPRING & HELPING THEM GET THINGS TOGETHER TO PUT THE BIRD IN THE OVEN bUT WHEN HE FINALLY GOT BACK HOME HE NEVER DID EAT BECAUSE EVERY PLACE HE WENT TO HELP THEY GAVE HIM A DRINK--SO BY THE TIME HE GOT BACK HE JUST FELL ASLEEP IN HIS LOUNGE CHAIR & MISSED THE MEAL
"He believed that fiction was the work of the Devil but he never refused whiskey."
And people don't believe me when I tell them that I have African blood.
So nice to read an interesting and memory prompting story. I'm getting very tired of the blah, blah and more blah that predominates blogs these days....