Most often, November weather, in Atlanta is just about right for football. I don’t remember how many of the Thanksgiving games I attended but often went with a group consisting of my brother Don and his dates, various cousins, and whoever I was dating at the time. To us, it was the more, the merrier. Trying to find parking near the stadium was out of the question so we walked. Remember, this was before people wore or even owned high quality tennis or running shoes. I wore little thin soled flats and stockings and dresses. Our home was on 9th street, so we walked about six or seven blocks up to Peachtree Street, then about nine blocks back to North Ave, then several blocks down to the Tech stadium, quite a little trot! Of course, climbing up into the stands required more energy.
My mother and dad always got up quite early on turkey cooking days in order to get the bird into the oven. It took both of them because the bird was heavy and my mother was small. Dad did the heavy lifting and, in the kitchen, Mother was boss. They worked well together. He always said she messed up every pot and pan in the kitchen when she cooked a big meal. So he stood at the sink and scrubbed them, trying to keep ahead of her. He thought it was funny and he loved her cooking so never complained. I’m sure she had prepared as much as possible the day before, such as a jello salad, big pan of cornbread, precooked the green beans, and possibly made pies etc. She most often cooked a hen a day or two before so she could use the broth to make her big pan of dressing. She never stuffed the bird because they felt there was a danger of food poisoning from improper cooking. She had majored in Home Economics at Bessie Tift College.
My job was to set the table and do some kind of very simple centerpiece, often just veggies and pretty leaves. Mother had beautiful china, silver etc and we always used cloth napkins and a tablecloth. Our table seated twelve easily and other tables could be set up if needed. Now, I am amazed that all that work got done, meal served, and young folks helped clear – and then we walked all that way to the game. When my mother finished eating, she did not return to the kitchen unless she made herself a turkey sandwich, in the evening. Dishes were done by others.
One Thanksgiving, when I was a junior in college, we went to Jacksonville to be with Mother’s sister. A boyfriend came up from Gainesville and had dinner with us. Later, he took me dancing. Then, on Saturday, he came and took me to Gainesville for the University of Florida game. I think they were playing Alabama. The half time show was so great. He finished his MBA that year and moved to Atlanta.
When I think of it, seems kind of strange that we went to so many football games. My dad despised football; never watched a game; refused to even talk about it. When I was very young, some friends of my parents lost their wonderful son because he was injured playing high school football. I think right then, they must have decided their boys would not play. Also, Dad would tell young men that if they had any desire to play baseball, to avoid football - they could too easily injure their knees etc in football. One of my very loved cousins did just that and had knee trouble for years. I remember Dad saying, “They just go out there and try to kill and injure each other. What kind of sportsmanship is that?” It is possible that the game was rougher back then. I surely don’t know.
One especially happy holiday, when my kids were 7 and 10, our entire family went to Slidell, La. to spend Thanksgiving with brother Don, his wife Jane, and their family. I don’t know how in the world they managed to sleep and feed eight adults and seven kids (brother Bobby and his family came too) - but they did, and comfortably too. They had a lovely home, on a golf course, and the weather was nice for the kids to get outside. Slidell is across Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans so it was exciting to go sightseeing there, for me, with all the people I loved. I’ve been back to New Orleans several times since then, but have the sweetest memories of that trip.
You know, after all the terrible things that happened during and after the hurricane, my desire to revisit New Orleans has pretty much waned and it is not about the streets and buildings, it is the people. Yes, I know and have met some perfectly lovely folks who lived there but just doubt I’ll go back. Once when I was in a New Orleans cab, because of the rain, there was talk of flooding. I asked the driver if he was afraid and he said, no, he just hated all the snakes that get washed up. UGH! I remembered that during the storm but that was small potatoes in comparison to the way people behaved.
On another Thanksgiving, our family went to Amicolola Falls, in the north Georgia mountains. I believe my brother Bob got that trip organized…. Or it could have been my parents, not sure. At any rate, it was another really happy Thanksgiving. We had a big cabin but I think the kids slept on the great room floor. My mother, sisters in law, and I, and maybe the girls, drove over to Helen, Ga. and to a wonderful old country store, one day.
Another Thanksgiving, everyone came to our house, in Augusta, and I loved having them. I don’t remember much about the food except that I decided to make a three layer cake with chocolate icing. I was so tickled because the guys whittled on it til they’d eaten the entire, huge cake. I’d made pecan and pumpkin pies too. That was the trip, I think, where Don recorded Dad reading to us, some Robert Service poems or Kipling.maybe.
Dee was just saying, last night, that she might read SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON to her kids .. My dad read it to her … and to us when we were young. I thought it was so sweet when she said it just doesn’t sound as good when I read it (talking about herself). Dee is a trained actress and when she reads, she does all the different character in distinct voices and it is fun to hear her read .but, of course, it is not her Papa. He also read Bible stories and Bobsy Twins and I don’t know what all else.
Another family activity that I loved and miss, was Mother playing the piano for Jane, Don and me to sing. Of course, anyone else was welcome to join in. Mostly, we sang hymns if we were singing harmony. Jane has a lovely, high voice, and Don sings tenor. Every once in a while, I’d date a guy who could also sing along but if that was all they were good for, I’d let them go???!!!! My Tony had a really good singing voice but he didn’t know one note from another ---- and he was kinda loud :0).. His favorite song was Tom T.Hall’s, OLD DOGS AND CHILDREN AND WATERMELON WINE. Now it makes me want to cry when I hear it.
Well, I’m surely full of memories, tonight……. And they are good ones too. I just hope my children and grands will build up memories to enjoy when they get to the winter of their lives.
I do need to add one note. I am so tremendously grateful that my son is back in the good ol’ USA, this Thanksgiving. We need to remember the other mothers’ children who are not home, in our prayers.
This was made Thanksgiving 2007, in Myrtle Beach. Little Michael is next to Bobby's grandson, who we now have to call Big Michael at family get-togethers, and Bobby's granddaughter Lana, Robin's daughter. We decided to skip cooking that year and went to a restaurant, which was a lot easier! It was still a fun time for everyone.