Threshing The Wheat From The Chaff


| January/February 1972



At the time of this writing, visions of the Thanksgiving turkey with all its trimmin'soyster dressing, mashed potatoes 'n gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie with whipped cream-seems uppermost in our minds, beckoning the heralding of the happy holiday season just ahead.

I am reminded of those happy days when the whole clan congregated around the sagging festive board at Grandma's, down the street and 'round the corner. There was, of course, Grandma, whom all our elders called 'Aunt Mag' then there was Aunt Mae and Aunt Annie, cousin Paul, Dad 'n Mom and 'us Katzenjammer' kids all reaching 'n grabbing 'n vying with one another over one solitary, defenseless bird.

First off, Aunt Mae always made the official announcement that cousin Paul would have to have nothing but the white meat. To compensate, Aunt Mae would settle for a wing, Mom was satisfied with the back, brother and I always pulled off a drumstick apiece, while Aunt Annie chewed on the gizzard and Grandma gnawed the neck. By the time the platter got down to Dad, he would say, 'Any piece will do I'm not finicky' and he couldn't really be, at that stage of the game. When the bones were all stacked up, it was Mom who usually reached over with the well-chewed wish-bone, knowing just how to grasp it so I'd get the shortest end while she got her wish.

Having gorged himself sufficiently on the choice white meat, Aunt Mae passing him all the 'vittles' firstestit was cousin Paul who left the table before all the rest, grunting and groaning from discomfiture of an overstuffed tummy. Now my ever loving aunts 'n uncles, including Dad, had generously chipped in and had a little 'jon' built right into the corner of the small dining room for Grandma's convenience. The only thing, instead of being well insulated, it had walls that consisted of only beaver board a very good conductor of sounds and pyrotechnics issuing from within-all this while the rest of us were trying to finish our Thanksgiving repast which consisted of those parts of the festive bird which cousin Paul didn't like; and therefore had generously left for us.

Other years, the happy season of Thanksgiving meant gathering out at Uncle John's and Doney Stewart's, which always entailed the thrilling trip of riding a mile out into the country in cousin Paul's big Buick seven-passenger touring car which Aunt Mae referred to as 'the DeLuxe Model'.

Of course there was the proverbial Thanksgiving bird with Uncle John his beady eyes, his thinly-parted, slightly curled hair and drooping walrus mustache the epitome of old-time family tin-types presiding with carving knife and fork over the simmering, well-stuffed Tom at the head of the festive board. Both Uncle John and the oval framed, gay-90's portrait of him hanging overhead appeared the perfect patriarchal host at such gala holiday events, whether he knew it or not. For, although 'us kids' were often awed in his august presence, his actions seemed to belie knowledge of that noble fact.