When I was a youngster, Thanksgiving dinner at our house was probably similar to many Thanksgiving meals.
My mother and grandmother would start preparing for the 4 p.m. feast around 6 a.m. The turkey was a 20-pounder, so it had to be roasted for many hours. My job was to set the table for nine family members and four or five guests. Believe me, I was closely watched so that every plate and every utensil was placed just right.
During the long wait, the wonderful aromas from the kitchen were overwhelming. I spent much of the day watching the clock.
Around 2 p.m., my uncle and aunt would arrive, and then guests would start trickling in around three. The time before the meal was dominated by adult conversation, so I would read a book.
Finally, 4 o’ clock came, and everyone quickly moved to the dining room. My grandfather said grace and carved the turkey with care and precision. At last, the food was passed – always clockwise.
We had the usual Thanksgiving fare, but we also had oysters, which my aunt loved, rutabaga, the first cousin to the turnip, and yams, a relative of the sweet potato. To finish off the meal, we had pumpkin pie.
When the meal was finished, my mother, aunt and grandmother did the dishes after I had cleared the table, and the men went into the living room to talk and smoke. After depositing the utensils and mostly empty bowls, platters and plates in the kitchen, I would return to reading my book.
Around 7 p.m., the guests started to leave, and then my uncle and aunt would leave about 8. Before they had a car, my Uncle Gene (he lived with us) and I would drive them to the bus stop at Irving Park and Oak Park Avenue.
These Thanksgiving days always bring back fond memories, because there was always much laughter, affection and sharing. There is nothing more important than family.
My pal Roger didn’t particularly like school, so he would often comment about his experiences like this:
“Man, that history teacher of mine is a real yo-yo, and the class is a drag. He is so unhip. And on Friday, he’s going to give us a hairy test. I know that I should hang loose, and not clutch, but I can’t get flipped about studying.”
Now, if I was talking to Bill, the car enthusiast, he’d say something like this:
“Hey, cat, you have to see the bomb I’ve put together. It has duals a’crazy, nerf bar, and it’s raked and chopped. It cost a lot of bread, but I can’t wait to go cruising Saturday night.”
The cruising would probably end up in a race on North Avenue.