A Thanksgiving Memory

Happy Thanksgiving!

My father was a tender man.  He came back from WWII, from the Pacific Rim, probably shell shocked, certainly a pacifist.

It was somewhere in the  50’s.    My parents had bought their dream house: a very old, and badly- needing- restoration pre-Revolutionary War house.  My father, along with my 9 months pregnant mother, moved into this house and began the necessary restoration.  I remember my brother and I were bedded down in what was to be the dining room.

Both my parents were biting off probably more than they could chew with this property.  There were two barns, a few sheds, and lo and behold!  An outhouse.  That was the toilet…the only toilet.

My mother, being city bred, and also so heavily pregnant, refused to use that black walnut-built two seater outhouse, and since it was already winter, who could blame her?  My father worked nights  putting in a proper bathroom, and peace reigned again.  Sort of.

(Black walnut is beautiful wood, and since they were surrounded with acres of it, that particular wood was used for just about everything, including the beautiful curving banister in the front hall.  My father also tore apart the outhouse and used some of the wood in constructing a cabinet under the back staircase,  accessible from the kitchen.  It was a great place for us to play hide and seek as children.)

Thanksgiving was coming one year, and my father decided he would buy a live turkey, fatten it up and slaughter it for the day.  I vaguely remember going with him one night, when it was already dark and cold,  and what I remember was  a very large, dark room, lit by a bare bulb hardly casting light  on the proceedings.  If I remember correctly, it probably was a poultry farm somewhere in Middlesex County, probably in Millstone.  Back in the 50’s and 60’s, five miles from Princeton, all of this area was farm country.  Very old, English, Scottish then Dutch countryside with huge acreage of farms, dairy and grains.

So my father brings home a live turkey, and with two  kids and a toddler, he thinks he is going to make “Tom” dinner.

My father soon realized  his now-country- bred children had made friends with Tom and the idea of eating a friend, well, this wasn’t on the menu for us kids.

My mother wasn’t about to pluck or clean a turkey.  She was a nurse and ballet dancer and hadn’t education in this.  She didn’t like to even touch fish to be cooked.

So Tom went to Ham MacDonald in Rocky Hill.  He had 12 children and I am sure Tom served the purpose he was bred for very nicely there.

My father went to his friend in Millstone, Chester, who was a  butcher, and got a goose.  I think he decided on goose because of the quick disappearance of Tom and he knew any turkey carcass showing up on a plate would have been suspect.

So that  Thanksgiving we had goose, which was rather strange because Thanksgiving wasn’t called “Goose Day”.

My father was a tender man.  Perhaps WWII and the times had made him tender.  Perhaps having children made him see life through our eyes.  Some men become harder faced with life.  I think it was because of his nature.  He practiced compassion, even to the sensitivities of children.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Tags: , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “A Thanksgiving Memory”

  1. Margie Says:

    What a beautiful memory of your father!

    I can picture the countryside as I read this essay – having grown up in East Brunswick, a very similar landscape indeed. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. Ours was quiet and thoroughly enjoyed!

    Love ya, cuz!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Margie! East Brunswick is so beautiful…..I was born in New Brunswick….and I remember the old apartment buildings with beautiful courtyards and the thick columns between the living and dining areas.

    These apartment buildings must have been built in the 1900s…or a few years later. And people who think New Jersey is all industrial have no idea how rural it actually is. It’s the Garden State after all, and for good reason. For years it was the breadbasket of the East.

    I remember the pasture lands, the meadows and the old farms that extended around East Brunswick. Beautiful, and still beautiful. I believe Pam and Marvin, Aunt Jean’s remaining daughter, lives in East Brunswick.

    We are very fortunate to have grown up in the wilds of New Jersey, avoiding the Jersey Devil and the Jersey Barrens….LOL!

    Thanksgiving was just Fred and I and it was quiet and beautiful.

    Love you back, cuz!


  3. bet365 Says:

    hi I was fortunate to come cross your subject in wordpress
    your subject is terrific
    I get much in your website really thank your very much
    btw the theme of you blog is really admirable
    where can find it


  4. Homepage Says:

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More Informations here: ladynyo.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/a-thanksgiving-memory/ […]


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: