1940’s and 1950’s on a farm north of Fort Collins, Colorado
The hustle-bustle of getting ready for the big Thanksgiving Day was anticipated by my mom and my grandma, weeks ahead of time. Mom would go to town with a big long list after discussing how big a turkey she should buy, with my dad. My dad would always reply – “ I don’t care as long as it’s big, Loretta and buy yourself a big bouquet of flowers for the middle of the table.” Mom spent just as much time at the flower shop picking out the right kind of flowers as she did at the grocery store. Sometimes she arranged her own flowers and sometimes she bought them already arranged at a florist Shop. She had a favorite florist. The name escapes me now.
She shopped for groceries at Steele’s Market. Usually after two hours going up and down every isle, she had just exactly what she wanted. We never got to go with her when we were little, she had to concentrate on “The Thanksgiving Dinner!”
She drove the new pea green Ddodge into Fort Collins, after she told Dad she would never, never drive such a hideous green car! Dad had ordered a new car right after World War II and it arrived about a year later, along with a truck load of other Dodge cars, all painted pea green. Dad was so thrilled to have been called to say that his car was in that he did not even care what color it was and besides he was color blind!
He proudly drove the new 4 door Dodge home and we all piled into it wanting to go for a ride. Mom came out of the house with her apron on – took one looks and said “That is the awfullest green car i have ever seen!” My dad was crushed. “But Loretta that is all they had.” “I don’t care!” Mom said. “Take it back!” “I can’t – this is all they have,” Dad replied.
Dad won – but not with the approval that he wanted from mom. Her last words as she went back in the house. “I am not driving the awful looking green car!”
So to soothe his pride and the kids looking at him from the back seat – he said “You guys wanna go for a ride?” Boy did we!! So he slowly drove out of the drive way and headed up the road to grandma’s and grandpa’s. We thought he was going to show off his new car to them. Nope! He turned a mile below them, asking us, “You wanna go over the derby’s?” We loved going over “The Derby’s” in his old International pick up, going as fast as he could – about 40 or 45, reaching the top of the first hill and zoom down the other side and up the other hill-zoom down the other and up the next hill. We would all be smiles. Dad had a grin on his face also, because it left a little hollow in the pit of our tummy as we reached the top and rushed down the otherside of the hill. Thus we called them “The Derby’s!”
We went a little faster in the new green car – taking our breath away as we zoomed down the hill and up the other hill – there were four hills. Then he turned around and we went back over them!! Oh! What fun we had with dad because he was having just as much fun!
The last zoom down the hill – dad said “Don’t tell your mother!” So we didn’t! She thought those Derby’s were dangerous! They were, if you ever met someone else coming the other way, because dad took his half out of the middle.
Dad took mom to town in the Awful pea green Dodge car for about a year, once a month. Then on a Saturday – Mom just got in the car and went off by herself with her grocery list. Dad never said a word and neither did mom!
The reason for the “pea green color”… after WWII there was a surplus of white and Army green paint, no more jeeps, tanks and airplanes to paint, so they mixed the white and green together and painted cars “pea green” that were being manufactured again. The car making was halted during the war years.
Moms trip to the grocery store and flower shop and the trip home was an enormous thrill for us kids. We helped unload the car, listened to mom as to where to store and place certain items and she careful carried the bouquet of flowers into the house and placed them in the center of the formal dinning room table. They were always beautiful!
The preparation began with all the china and silver ware and crystal taken out, washed and careful dried with the flower sack dish towels. Moms linen table clothes had to be re-ironed so no wrinkles showed. The linen napkins were ironed also. We placed the table cloth of the table and placed the china, goblets and silver ware on the table so it could be set into place the morning of the turkey dinner.
Next she baked pies, lots of them. Stored or froze them. This took all day. I became the apple peeler and the dishwasher when I was older and allowed in the kitchen . The kitchen was mom’s domain and we watched from the archway of the dining room – she did not want anyone underfoot!!
The next day we ground cranberries for mom’s wonderful salad. Chopped the celery for the salad and the stuffing. Chopped onions for the stuffing. Broke the toasted bread in pieces and placed in a big pan with all kinds of good smelling herbs, lots of sage, pepper and salt.
Day before Turkey Day, the turkey had thawed and cleaned with soda rubbed on it, washed and rinsed. It was placed in a big roaster pan and placed in the fridge for early morning roasting – about 3 or 4 in the morning is when that bird finally got shoved in the new electric stove-oven, mom selected when they built onto the house.
Mom never wrote a menu down – she had it all in her head. Unlike me – I write it down and check it frequently – in case I forget to put something on the table!!
Everyone arrived in their finest clothes, shiny clean, spic and span, shoes polished. We dressed in our finest church going clothes – shoes polished also. We were told to be good and helpful.
Mom had everything timed just right and everything was on the table all at once. We were seated as mom designated. grandpa or dad said the blessing. Our dinner devoured and the pie eaten. Dishes done and put away. We all retired to the living room where the men were talking about crops, current events and politics. Dad began telling stories and tales as he took the photo album out and explained every picture with lots of details. Everyone sleepy and night coming on, we fetched their coats, told them we loved them and bid good bye.
With everyone gone, mom curled into a chair totally exhausted. Dad commented “ Nice dinner Loretta.” Mom would say “Thank you John.” And that is the happy ending to our Thanksgiving Day.
Bob and I want to wish all our readers, friends and relatives and Happy Thanksgiving. Please remember to invite a person who does not have family here and say a prayer for the less fortunate. Would you include a special prayer for my friend Ginny in the hospital in Anchorage.
God bless our United States of America!