Turkey Thanksgiving Memories Growing Up

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. --John Fitzgerald Kennedy

From The Late 40s Early 60s

Page Created: 11/26/2000 Page Last Updated: 11/05/2023 00:44

As I get older, these images do NOT go away and we attempted to recreate them and did for many many years. Sue would work for days getting ready and we were able to return the favor to Aunt Opal, Aunt Editom Cousin Kat and Uncle Otis. With Sue, the perfectionist, everything had to be perfect.

For perhaps seven years we hosted (1988-1995) Thanksgiving and during that period of time cakes and pies would always magically appear right on schedule. The ladies would bake at their homes and Uncle Otis would deliver the ladies and their precious desserts to our house. I can clearly see Grandson Jonathan and Zachary watching out the window when their Aunts were coming and race down the street looking for Uncle Otis' old Oldsmobile to pull up, pop open that cavernous trunk, and pies would fly into the house!

During the decade of the 90s, we lost Opal, Alma, Edit, and Otis, all well into their 90s. After 1988, Sue's Mom and mine would join the get togethers. Mom enjoyed another two tears before her passing in 1990 and Sue's Mom was a much loved fixture until her passing in 1999.

I cannot tell about memories withoiut telling of the time Aunt Kaye joined us. The day before the festivities, Sue was called into work for an emergency (she was the big boss and had to go). Aunt Kaye and I had to make Thanksgiving dinner for fifteen and it was a daunting experience as Aunt Kaye was not a cook, perhaps a little worse than me! Anyway, we called Sue and work fifteen times about how to do what!

Finally at 11:00 PM the night before Thanksgiving, Sue arrived home and we got graded. I think Sue was expecting a disaster but shee gave us a solid B grade abd we laughed about that for years, BTW, Aunt Kaye is not 97 and still kicking.

Cousin Kat joined us another decade beforer she left this world!

Thank you my family for all of our wonderful years together and thank you Sue for giving me back the memories I so sorely missed for two decades!

Little House
Thanksgiving, a special time of the year!

My aunt Edith on Dad's side of the family came to California from Arkansas right after the Depression began and bought a tiny house (maybe 600 square feet) in Paramount California. Very soon after-words, Aunt Edith followed buying another tiny house next door to Aunt Opal . Mom and Dad following in 1932 as the jobs were non-existence in the South until well into the mod-1930s. Mom and Dad rented a small apartment near by until I was born in 1944 and they moved to West Los Angeles to be close to Dad's work.

It is fresh in my memory, as it were yesterday! We got into the old "rattle-trap" and headed to Aunt Opal's on most holidays and celebrate the holiday as if we lived in a castle.

On Thanksgiving, both kitchen's went full blast all day whipping up pies, cakes, turkey's, ham's, roasts, and all the "fixin's". It was like magic watching these three women (and often others including the Jones' and Tucker's) go in and out of the doors with piles of food and not drop anything.

What about us guys you ask? We were relegated to the back yard, located on lawn chairs, and listened (yes, listened as TV's were not in the public yet!) to the local football games visualizing the action in our heads.

During in-climate weather, we set up tables in the one and a half car garage. To this very day, I can catch a wiff of the amazing concoctions that emanated from those two tiny kitchens.

Big people, big table; Little people, little table...Seems fair!

One could tell when things were about ready as the tables would be set up, the finest lines uwould be placed on these tables and the silver, recently polished, appears as if my magic. The silver never matched because, again, being poor no one had placing setting for ten or twelve.

Notice the "kids" table, the place for the kids and the youngest adults who could not fit that the adults table. Sitting at the "adults table" meant you made the scene, you were a woman or a man! Also, everybody was dressed for dinner...aprons were gone, jeans were missing, shirts and often ties were worn, and the ladies in their finest!

Time for the prayer which was generally performed by the senior male member of the tribe and that was Uncle Jimmy Robinson. We have thanks to God, thanks to our wonderful country, thanks to our magnificent family, and acknowledged members of our family for this years special events.

Little House
Not really a medieval torture device!

After dinner, it was time for Claudia (my cousin) and I to "turn the crank" and make ice-cream. Taking turns it was a contest on seeing who could complain the most. The ladies would create difference receipts for the contents, the men would get the ice and chop blocks down into usable sizes, and the guys would also pour in just the right amount of salt making sure the drain was NOT pointed into a grassy area.

We would turn, complain, turn. complain, and turn some more. It was fun to listen to the stories of yesteryear when the guys han to turn the crank when they were young. They did it walking up to the school house on an icy road in the middle of winter in bare feet carrying wood for the cast iron stove.

But wait, with the ice cream, we had to have cake and pie! The parade started. Pies? We had chocolate, lemon, pecan, apple, gooseberry, blackberry, and of course cherry. Cakes you ask? At least five or six and all fresh and delicious! What word comes to mind? STUFFED!

This picture was taken at the front of the little Robinson house and it was no wider than shown so, you know why we ate outside. The left window was bedroom #1 (10'x10'), right window was the living room (10'x15'), behind bedroom #1 was bedroom #2 and a half-bath (10'x15'), and the kitchen and dining area (10'x20'). Lot's of love came out of the little home!

From left to right: Uncle Jimmy Robinson, Dad, Mom, Aunt Opal , Uncle Claud Parchman, Aunt Edith Parchman, Cousin Kathryn Robinson (This was pre-1952, I could have taken the picture but it was pure luck!)


"Mess, what mess?"

What next...duh! Cleanup and naps which translates to the women cleaning up and the guys get out of their way finding chaise lounges, beds couches or over-stuffed chairs to sounder off too. Loud sounds wold begin to emanate from the locations of these devices. In all fairness, the guys were available on-call for the heavy lifting tasks but the kitchen would not support more than three at a time.

Once Aunt Opal's home was clean, we would go next door and do Aunt Edith's!

After an hour of so od recanting how wonderful the food was and how full we all were, we would break out either the shuffle-board set (which we played on the driveway) or croquet set (which we played in the back yard). The non-athletic types would head for Aunt Edith's house, were a large jig saw puzzle was always in need for more adult level efforts.

Then, homeward bound trying to keep Dad awake as we took the "side streets" home! There we few freeways available in those days and they didn't go where we needed to go. We would arrive home and first thing would be to build a left-over turkey sandwichs.