Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2019

Seventy years later, the descendants of those earlier Thanksgiving dinners are wildly scattered and number in the hundreds. My family gathered around my table, others gathered in other cities. Here is a write up in the style of a news item.


Three generations gathered at the Thanksgiving table of the Cleage-Williams family Thursday. Although several members were unable to attend, four of the daughters and their children arrived bearing their specialties – collards, mac & cheese, cranberry sauce, bread, salad and more. Along with the turkey and dressing provided by grandmother, Kristin and the broiled salmon cooked by Grandfather James all was served atop an Ecuadorian tablecloth provided by a long time family friend.

There was laughter and lively discussions; songs were sung dramatically, and a game of dominoes was played. The family expects to gather again at Christmas time, hopefully with the missing family members present.

Nov. 28, 1905 – The Last Letter – An Invitation to Thanksgiving Dinner

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
131 Puryear St. City

2730 Kenwood Ave.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Nov. 28, 1905

Mr. Jarrett,
Dear Homer, You are most cordially invited to take Thanksgiving dinner with us at our home Thurs. Nov. 30th. It will be very informal.

Yours sincerely
Anna Reed

P.S. I neglected to tell you that dinner will be served at “7:00 P.M.”
Anna Reed


click to enlarge

500 Brave Rain to Attend Service

500 Brave Rain to Attend Holiday Auditorium Service
Franklin Loehr Delivers Invocation, Rabbi Klein Welcomes Servicemen, Rev. R.W. Barstow Preaches

Five hundred persons weathered a heavy downpour yesterday morning to attend the community-wide Thanksgiving service sponsored by the Greater Springfield council of Churches at the Municipal Auditorium.  The clouds broke, however, as the service ended and the crowd started homeward for the first peacetime Thanksgiving in four years. Twenty-one flags of the United Nations were arranged in a semi-circle on the stage and a bank of yellow chrysanthemums stood at the altar.  Numbers of servicemen, most of them accompanied by parents and children, were in the audience.  Few persons went alone, for thanksgiving is a family day and the ushers were kept busy seating whole rows of family groups together.

Following the procession of the clergy, representing the hundred churches and synagogs of the valley area, which are members of the council. Rev Franklin Lochr.  Executive secretary, gave the invocation. A Thanksgiving proclamation for the city was given by Mayor J. Albin Anderson, Jr., and for the nation by Daniel B. Brunton Mayor-elect.

Rabbi Greets Servicemen

“For us who have been on the far-flung battlefields of the world, Thanksgiving comes as a spontaneous expression of gratitude for the goodness and mercy of God that has ever been with us.” Rev. Isaac Klein. rabbi of Kadimoh Synagog said in his welcome to returned servicemen. “Last year at this time we also took part in a union service.  Then it was more of a prayer than a service. Even though our arms were on the upgrade all over the front, our future was still uncertain.” he continued. “I faced an audience of begrimed men in battledress.  Today, with the tumult and shouting over, we are most of us back at home and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving.

“We pray for our buddies who made the supreme sacrifice, and that the United States, great and mighty in war shall be great and mighty in peace.  We pray that we will join with all good men all over the world in establishing a world of equity.  May it become a good world that shall be the greatest blessing of war.” Rev Robbins Wolcott Barstow, director of the Commission for World Council service, gave the Thanksgiving sermon. “The world is in the valley of decision.” he said. “We are standing at the parting of the ways.  Will we climb toward heaven, or fall into the aura of still darker days?  Peace alone cannot restore the wasted bodies and starved souls.” he declared. “Peace alone cannot replace the blasted dignity of human life, nor make certain a commonwealth of nations, resting on aggressive good will.

“We give thanks for this fresh chance given out of this tragedy. To find and fulfill God’s eternal purpose as we know it in our hearts.  As we compare our lot with that of most of the rest of the world, we wonder because of what merit we deserve such safety and bounty as has been ours.” He said. “The children of Europe are fatherless and motherless.  What does the future hold for them?  As we hold this service this morning, 166 people die in the city of Berlin.  But there are still some who call themselves Americans who would deny food to those people to give them a chance to live.  Our Thanksgiving is nothing but a mockery if it is just self-congratulatory that we have been singled out for such blessings.”

There must be a reconversion that is far more than just a retooling of machine shops, Dr. Barstow continued.  “It must reach right down into the realm of practical business affairs.  How does it come that factories large and small are closed by picket lines?  How does it come that workers are idling and expect to be paid for their idleness?  It would seem that we have so shackled our souls that we are blocking our entrance to a world of good will.”

Thrift Has Been Forgotten

Thrift is a word that seems to have been forgotten, Dr. Barstow said, pointing to the record sums spent last year on liquor and horse racing.  Responsibility also resign with management, the speaker said, “If they expect an honest day’s work, they must offer an honest day’s pay.” He said.

“American labor and industry both need to be aware of covetousness.” He said. “If they would become a team to work together in the waiting world, we could thank God for the power of mutual understanding and altruistic cooperation.  The world is hungry for a sign of sincerity.”

Presentation and retrieving of the color was made by the color guard of Boy Scouts from troop 34 of Hope church, with Morton Bates, scoutmaster and the troop 42 of Kadimoh synagog. Ben Livow, scoutmaster.  Prescott Barrows gave the organ prelude and postlude and accompanying the Thanksgiving hymns.  The flowers were a gift of Mrs. W.S. Schermerhorn in honor of her parents.  Mr. and Mrs. Fred W. Wells.

Rev. Bryan f. Archibald pastor of First Baptist church gave the Scripture reading and Rev. John Hoon pastor of Wesley Methodist church gave the prayer.  Rev. Raymond II Hendrick, canon of Christ Church cathedral spoke the offertory sentences. Benediction was made by Re. Albert B. Cleage of St. John’s Congregational church.

Anthems were given by the West Springfield First Church quartet, with Dorothy Ryland, soprano: Eunice Anderson, alto, Clayton smith, tenor and Charles Leonard, bass.

(____________I found the article at the Genealogy Bank.____________)

“It’s Thanksgiving eve…”

St. John’s Congregational Church
Springfield, Mass.

210 King Street
November 21, 1945

Hi Folks:

It’s Thanksgiving eve…Doris is out to the Ballet with Mrs. DeBerry. We were planning to go but some of my folks are trying to organize a “Community Council of Negroes” and they called a meeting for tonight and I thought I’d better be there to see that nothing was pulled off… and when I arrived on time (for once) there was nobody present but me and another po’ cold Negro… and eventually two or three more showed up…but not the man with the key to the building so we adjourned without a meeting.  It was just as well that a way since I am interested in organizing a “similar” Council under the N.A.A.C.P. sponsorship…and that can’t be accomplished until the new president takes office December 1st.

Everything goes along…Our kitchen is now furnished except for the Frigidaire…The Ladies Progressive League finally got the “Breakfast set” in…and another lady contributed an electric wall clock..and other little nick nacks for the kitchen.  The guest-room is furnished with a bed and dresser…and the rest of the equipment is “on the way”.  Before Louis gets here and reports…I’d better mention that the house is still as empty as a barn….The living room has nothing in it….and the rest of the house has the uncoordinated look which a house has without curtains … drapes … pictures … n’ that … but its livable … and our credit is exhausted … The treasurer hands me my check and I hand it to the white-folks.  I guess I mentioned the couch we bought for the dining room … It’s “light oak” … modern’ n’ that … and sort of goes with our dinning-room outfit … we went down-town to get a studio couch that could be used as a bed for company … but saw this marked down from $129.00 to $89.00 … and it being what we wanted (and couldn’t afford) we couldn’t resist a bargain … and put a nickle down on it.

My mother reads on the new couch

The church is going along nicely.  Sunday morning attendance is holding up … and quite a few visitors are dropping in.  We have seven new members waiting to be fellowshipped in. I’m trying to get fifteen before having an “in-gathering”.  The members are trying to make us fat with their Turkey dinner invitations … We ate out twice last week … great BIG ELEGANT dinners from soup to nuts n’ that.  We are also eating two Thanksgiving dinners out this week.  One tomorrow, Thanksgiving … and another Saturday with a family who have all their celebrations on Saturday when the father can be home from work.  We are still “ORGANIZING CRAZY” … We are organizing the entire church into “activity-groups ” of eighteen members each…About 25 or more groups.  These groups will meet monthly…The group leaders will “encourage the participation” of their members…check up on financial obligations (collect back dues) etc. and will raise their group-financial quota of $100.00.  They will, at least make it possible for more people to actively participate in the church program.  We are also organizing a Men’s Brotherhood consisting of all the men in the church.  They, too, will meet once a month with a Forum or banquet. or something “interesting”.  I’m trying to gradually get everybody DOING SOMETHING…and they seem to like the activity.  We had a recital at the church last Friday.  It was sponsored by the Choir.  The girl is studying at Julliard in New York and use to sing in the Choir.  Her father is on the Standing-Committee n’ that.  The admission was $1.20 which made me fearful… but a goodly crowd was out…and the girl got her $100.00 and the church cleared about $100.00 so everybody was happy. (See enclosed Program)

Hazel Scott
Hazel Scott. To read more about her and hear her sing click the photo.

We went down to hear Hazel Scott Monday night at the Civic auditorium.  It was jammed and packed … and she rocked them.  All of my members were out in a body … I didn’t recognize the scoundrels in them furs and diamonds..all sitting in the five dollar seats. AND IT WAS RAINING CATS AND DOGS.  Doris is taking a class in “Make-up” at the Springfield Playhouse … and I had to go by for her … and we had to run about ten blocks in the rain to the auditorium. A sailor and his girl sat next to us … During the first half of the program he sat with his head down on his knees … I thought the music was just too much for him … Just as she got to the Modern music … he heaved once or twice … and turned out the balcony … (I was sitting next to him) … The woman sitting in front of him liked to died … and she came just that close to being drowned … it was a sorry mess … His girl friend was LOYAL … and I do mean LOYAL … she stuck  right with him … as we good neighbors fled in wild panic … wiped his face and helped his stinking hulk from the room … We enjoyed the program, however … The critic here was a little critical … she played too fast … had too heavy a hand … etc. with which I agreed … but anyhow … she sho’ rocked Springfield one time!  The Negro “Ministerial council” asked me to preach their Thanksgiving Sermon … But I had already agreed to say the Benediction for the White Folks at a city-wide Unity service at the civic auditorium.  Negroes do love to have their own little affairs.  They were all invited to participate in the downtown service … but they preferred to have their own “segregated service”.

The women’s missionary division of the State Congregational Conference is going to meet at St. John’s Church next week … to learn of our great work … and to consider possible expansions.  We are getting ready to receive them with open arms … and dreams of a parish house for them to chew on …

Church Choirs from here, there and everywhere are holding forth at our church next Sunday afternoon … at a Thanksgiving Vespers … Should be quite an affair.

Tell Louis and Hugh the girls having been notified of their coming are champing at the bit…with impatience.  One little girl said she’d hold up announcing her engagement until she had a chance to look them over … ’cause after all.  We are EXPECTING THEM on the morning of December 1st.  the last dinner party we went to (last Sunday afternoon) … had places for them all set-up … The good lady understood they were coming that week-end.