Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Thanksgiving Memories~ by Esther Lowery Meyer
~The W.H. Lowery Family in1913~ Thanksgiving Memories
This is a written account of Thanksgiving Memories by my husband's great-Aunt Esther Lowery Meyer. The Lowery family was one of the founding families of Quincy, Washington and my husband's great-Aunts were remarkable women. My husband's maternal Grandmother is the young woman, third from the right, her name is Anna. Esther , the author of this short piece is the first on the right.
~ The W.H. Lowery Family in 1918~ (Esther is the 2nd from the right, my husbands' great-grandparents' Lowery are on the far left and far right of the back row.)
It was now November and Thanksgiving would soon be here. My mother made celebration of any day that could possibly be considered a holiday. Each month had it's special day in addition to the family birthdays. Even on Arbor Day she read us stories and poems about the day and once or twice we even planted a tree. Christmas was probably the most important day but Thanksgiving was a close second. My grandparents had come from New England so mother tried to observe the traditions of the day as her parents had done. We had recently moved from North Dakota and lived for a year with Uncle Jim at Davenport , Washington while Dad looked for a place to settle and get a house built. We had come the previous March to Quincy, in the Columbia Basin, where that land had just been opened up to homesteaders. The house was not yet finished though it had flooring and siding except the east end which was of temporary board and batten construction. Inside we looked up to the rafters overhead. The walls had grey building paper tacked between studs as insulation. Mother decided to invite our nearest neighbors whose name was 'Black' to Thanksgiving dinner. Besides the parents there was a girl my age and a boy, older. Finally the day came and Mother was up early, cooking, cleaning, and arranging the table. She got out her damask tablecloth, the drawnwork tray cloth which would hold the platter of meat in front of the host. Scattered over the table were crocheted and embroidered doilies to set dishes and goodies on. Yes, quite a change from our everyday table covered with white oilcloth. I doubt that any turkeys were available in the newly settled and sparsely populated area, and anyway, the price would have been prohibitive. The "piece de Resistance" this day was a big, fat, rooster, roasted nice and brown, stuffed with Mother's sage dressing and accompanied by plenty of good brown gravy. There would be a mound of mashed potatoes, home-baked bread, home-churned butter and an assortment of jams and jellies. The relishes might be green tomato sweet pickles, chow chow and pickled beets if the summer garden had been productive. Creamed onions and glazed parsnips were holiday dinner favorites. Salads had not yet come into popular use. No greens would have been available at that time of year. I do not remember what we had for dessert, but there surely would have been pie-apple perhaps, or custard, or maybe pumpkin, which could have been made from squash or carrots. Mother made ceremony of a company dinner, assigning each guest to a seat even though the supply of chairs had to be eked out with apple boxes or wooden packing crates. Dad always carved the meat, never mind that he had to do it with the kitchen butcher knife. The company arrived and soon Mother announced that dinner was ready. Mrs. Black immediately sat in the nearest chair, saying "oh, some nice light bread, I don't know when I last had some", reached across the table, speared a slice with her fork and put it on her plate. These people were from the south where they could not use yeast and only made quick breads. Their behavior at table was their custom, we learned. Dishes of food were not passed, but everyone was on their own. Mother was slightly taken aback, but quickly recovered and seated the rest of the company. After Dad asked the blessing he began to carve the rooster, asking each guest if he preferred dark or light meat and putting it on each plate as it was passed to him.
~The W.H. Lowery Family in 1919 ~
The dinner proceeded smoothly, everyone ate his fill. Then the children went out to play games. Being 7 years old at the time I do not remember what the games were, but I was happy to have a playmate my age. I do remember how very cold my feet got. When evening came all agreed it had been a good holiday. The Blacks turned out to be kind and helpful neighbors. Over the years we had many meals and visits at their house or ours. Each family doing things their own way. Mrs. Black's baking powder biscuits were always delicious. They remained good friends until they moved away. I copied this Thanksgiving account as it written. I met Great Aunt Esther and her husband, Uncle Luther Meyer and my husband and I were guests in their home at least twice in the early years of our marriage. They were hard-working farmers until an old age, and as I stated earlier, remarkable people...the kind of people that founded this great nation. May your Thanksgiving be one of giving thanks where it is due, to God, to our families, and to those who have sacrificed that we may be so abundantly blessed!