September Journey with Phyllis Buell

Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Thanksgiving Memories

Do you have special memories of Thanksgivings Gone By in you memory bank?

One of mine isn’t a big turkey dinner or a great big gathering. It wasn’t a gathering with lots and lots of cousins, either.

The “cousins bit” might be because I didn’t have a lot of cousins. Those that finally did come my way were many years younger. I was the always the designated baby sitter when I finally acquired some.

Turkey wasn’t on our menu for many years either. A roasted chicken was just right. A great reason to be especially thankful was putting the last wagon loads of corn in the crib on Thanksgiving morning.

Harvest was so very different in the 1930’s and 40’s than it is today.

I’m grateful today’s farmers don’t have to endure the cracked hands from days and weeks of harvesting each ear by hand.

Cold and snowy rows of corn stretched endlessly ahead of farmers in the still, dark, frosty mornings as they pulled into a field. Their husking wagon held little more than fifty bushels when full. It was pulled by a trusted team of horses. They knew the routine and “giddy upped” and “whoa-ed” on command.

Merle was still harvesting by hand when we were married in 49. My Dad had a one row Woods Bros. picker, a modern miracle in those days.

In 1950, the two of them purchased a self-propelled corn picker that harvested two rows at a time. It cost a phenomenal $3000. Would that buy a tire on the big machines of today?

Harvest is wrapping up this year with country elevators bursting at the seams due to the bountiful yields. Outside piles of grain have outgrown their boundaries, too. It has truly been a year when the “stars aligned” with decent prices, weather and yields! The harvest season of 2021 will be talked about for years – no doubt growing just a little bit bigger and better with each recall.

Taking a mental trip down memory lane brings back the picture of country schoolhouses of my childhood and their part in holiday celebrations.

Center, Clear Creek, my own Dist. #101 – each one played such a big part in community celebrations as well as education.

Each district had a Thanksgiving program with everyone in the area invited to the evening that ended with a free lunch for all. We looked forward to those yearly gatherings where generations of families enjoyed the fellowship.

We had a live turkey raffle each year. I can’t help but wonder in retrospect how the “winner” got that bird home? I can imagine it was a relief to hear someone else’s name announced as the new owner. Maybe it got a pardon like Washington’s Peanut Butter and Jelly did this year.

Like everything, there was a lot in those long ago days that has been somewhat romanticized . . . and - only in recollection, can we go back. We wouldn’t want to stay there, even if we could.

Time marches on, and like it or not, so do we.

Phyllis Buell, September Journeys