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Thanksgiving Day Memories Make Us Even More Thankful



This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News
on November 21, 1992

by Roz Young

            At Thanksgiving it is always a temptation, easily yielded to, to think back to earlier Thanksgivings, perhaps not so far back as the Pilgrims but at least to the days when everybody went out to grandmother's house over the river and through the woods.

            If you had been in Dayton a century ago on Thanksgiving, you would have read in the editorial of the morning paper, "It would not hurt our readers before unfolding their dinner napkins to attend some church service this morning and join devoutly in the singing and listen to an elegant summary of the blessings of Divine Providence. But that is a matter for individual inclination and at any rate may be prevented by needed rest or necessary duties. The preachers will no doubt get through all right, even if the congregations are small."

            Not every church in the city held services on Thanksgiving 100 years ago. Many met together in a union service. There was no United Way in those days, but in all churches on that day, a collection was taken for the poor.

            Downtown the Rev. Carl J. Hahne conducted a high mass at Emmanuel Church. Rev. A.N. Carsons spoke at Park Presbyterian Church on "Things for which we should be thankful." Choir singers were Lou Stout, Lydia Stout, Mattie Rickert, Mrs. S.L. LaRose, Anna Traebing, Warren C. Munger, M. DeLauncey, H.A. Crandall, George H. Hessler, W.J. James and C.D. Morton. Howard Pierce was the organist.

            Each adult Sunday school class adopted a poor family, provided the Thanksgiving dinner and promised to care for the family for one year.

            Rev. J.T. Webster preached at Christ Episcopal Church; Rev. S.A. Mowers preached at First U.B. The Reformed Church and Main Street Lutheran held services together, conducted by the Rev. Dr. Barclay. Special music was featured at the Christian Church at Fifth and Brown; Rev. L.R. Gault preached on "Times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." Rev. Tannenbaum preached at the 2 p.m. service at the Jewish Synagogue, Rev. Dr. Rusty at Grace M.E., Rev. J.B. Montgomery at the Third Street Presbyterian and Rev. C.L. Winget at the Summit Street Presbyterian.

            There were no pro-football games to watch in those days, not even a local college game, but in the afternoon a crowd of about 200 saw a football game between Central High School and a team from the Y gymnasium. Central won 6-0. The paper gave the names of the gym team as Hodge, captain; Gebhart, Brown, Wisemonger, Wood, T. Artz, Theobald W. Bickham, A. Bickham, C. Bickham, Marshall, Graves and Smith. On Central's team were Gross, captain; Artz, Shriver, Frizell, Feight, Slagel, Shroder, H. Theobald, Dover, Gallaher and Jones. The referee was H. McDermott.

            The Miami Shooting Club held a clay pigeon match with 35 members participating. That was it for sports on Thanksgiving Day.

            There were no movies to attend, but at Music Hall on Thanksgiving eve Mary Anderson and Robert Downing appeared in Romeo and Juliet, and on Thanksgiving night at Music Hall an actor billed as "The "Great Salvini" appeared in "The Gladiator."

            The feature of the day was the Thanksgiving dinner. Wild turkey in the market cost $3 to $3.50; domestic turkeys were 15 cents a pound with the feathers still on. Your great great grandmother had to dress the turkey herself.

            Chickens sold for 30 cents, geese for 50, ducks 40, pheasant 50 and quail $3 a dozen. Rabbit was so cheap and plentiful that the markets did not stock them.

            Cranberries sold for 12 cents a quart, potatoes for 12 cents a peck, butter for 28 cents a pound and eggs, 22 cents a dozen. Sweet potatoes were 40 cents a peck, celery 5 cents a bunch, oysters 30 cents a quart, chestnuts 25 cents a quart, cabbage 5 cents a head, apples 20 cents a half peck, grapes 10 cents a pound, bananas 40 cents a dozen, coffee 25 cents a pound, mincemeat, 3 pounds for 25 cents and bourbon 60 cents a quart.

            Afterwards the men and boys took naps or went hunting or sat around whittling and talking, while the women, who had worked for three days to get the meal ready, put the kettle on the stove to heat the water to wash every dish and knife and fork and spoon one at a time by hand.

            On a rare occasion it's fun to think about those good old days, but we can also be thankful that they will not come again, even with bourbon at 60 cents a quart.