Thanksgiving in the 1940s
As my 81st Thanksgiving approaches, I cannot help but look back over the years at the changing role my wife, Annette, and I have played in this important family event. For many years, we enjoyed gathering the clan in our home and providing the feast, but our days of hosting Thanksgiving have faded into the past. We have reached the point in life where we go to our children’s homes for the celebration. Annette, however, still cooks her pecan and apple pies, which are a favorite with our grandkids. In the distant past, we went to our parent’s homes when circumstances allowed. But my Navy career offered few such opportunities, so we were used to decades of having everyone within reach come to our home. As I keep looking back, I am reminded of the blog post I wrote a few years ago about celebrating the holiday in the years right after World War II, when I was a young child. I am repeating it here.
In my childhood, Thanksgiving was truly a family affair. I grew up in a large extended family whose spiritual anchor was my Grandmother Tatum. A physically a small woman, to us Edna Tatum was an awesome presence. She raised five daughters (Brenda, Olive, Evelyn, Lorene, and Sadie) essentially alone on an isolated farm outside El Dorado in South Central Arkansas. Her husband, Miller, worked for the railroad and was away from home five days a week. This left Grandma to run everything, including supervising and feeding the hired hands who worked the farm. Miller didn’t move his family into town because El Dorado was a rough oil boom-town in those days. He felt his daughters were far safer out in the country.