Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Riverhead Thanksgiving

On the table in the dining room of the Anderson house –

One big Turkey
Stuffing (in the turkey)
Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans cooked in bacon fat
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potatoes or Yams
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Ice Cream (always ice cream, for all occasions)

June’s mother (Maud Anderson) got up early to start the meal and she cooked it alone.  June rarely helped in the kitchen and consequently knew very little about how to cook anything.  Her mother didn't want her in the kitchen.  She thought the proper place for a young woman was learning a professional career at college.

Raised in Luray, Virginia, June’s mother cooked a Southern-inflected meal.  In particular, the green beans were distinctively Virginia style, cooked down to mush in bacon fat.  Everyone loved them.

An Anderson family portrait, circa 1938:  Ted, June,
Teddy, and Maud.
The meal was served early, usually between noon and one.  The serving dishes, brimming with food, had to be carried from the kitchen through the living room to the dining room.  Thanksgiving was a big holiday, but not a crowded one at the Andersons.  Most of the relatives were far off in Virginia and Connecticut.  So it was just June, her parents, her brother Teddy, and Aunt Thelma, who was living with them at the time.  The family was taking care of Aunt Thelma as she coped with a very severe and debilitating case of rheumatoid arthritis.

Art probably drove over for a short visit after the meal.  The visit had to be short because his family served Thanksgiving dinner in the late afternoon and he'd have to return back home for that.  If the Andersons had finished eating, Art would have joined them in the living room, where the floor model radio would have been on, probably tuned to a football game.

© 2010 Lee Price

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