Hol­i­day is trea­sure trove of memories, tra­di­tions

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FIFTY PLUS - Paul Crossan

When I was a young boy, in our fam­ily, I had three sis­ters. But our Thanks­giv­ing was spent also with my un­cles and aunts, we had a very, very close fam­ily. While I grew up in Beth­le­hem, Penn­syl­va­nia, my par­ents orig­i­nally were from Wilm­ing­ton. On af­fairs like this, they got to­gether. We ei­ther went to Wilm­ing­ton and shared Thanks­giv­ing, or my un­cle and aunt would come up to Beth­le­hem, and we would share those to­gether. The big thing I re­mem­ber, at that point in my life as a boy, was of course the turkey and the fill­ing! And sit­ting around the ta­ble and even as a lit­tle boy, just en­joy­ing the talk of that Thanks­giv­ing pe­riod.

As I went through my life, I re­mem­ber when the war broke out of course and I had grad­u­ated from high school and went into the ser­vice. While I was over­seas, Thanks­giv­ing oc­curred. I had the un­for­tu­nate re­spon­si­bil­ity that day of be­ing placed at a cross­roads, and I was a ri­fle­man at that point, in a divi­sion, of di­rect­ing some of the troops and oth­ers who came back, the di­rec­tion that they should go, head­ing up to wher­ever their unit was.

There is one event I can re­mem­ber about that Thanks­giv­ing day that still is in my mind, for while I was on duty, do­ing this job, a GI came by with a Ger­man pris­oner. And I said some­thing to him, I don’t re­call what it was, he re­sponded. He was tak­ing the pris­oner back to a prison camp. But he wasn’t very

long gone be­fore I heard a shot and I knew what hap­pened. How­ever, can’t do any­thing about it at that pe­riod of time. This was on Thanks­giv­ing day.

I then stood there and at the end of the day I still was on duty. We were sup­posed to get a Thanks­giv­ing day feast and it looked like I was for­got­ten. Even­tu­ally, in the late evening, my sergeant showed up and took me back to join my squad.

So I got to eat a very, very nice, cold Thanks­giv­ing turkey leg, (laughs) and that’s about all I re­mem­ber about that Thanks­giv­ing meal!

Leonard Dick­er­son

I can re­mem­ber as a child hav­ing fam­ily Thanks­giv­ing and we had quite a large fam­ily and we al­ways got to­gether on Thanks­giv­ing day, and we al­ways looked for the big turkey that we were go­ing to have. My mother would al­ways set it on the ta­ble first with­out cut­ting it. Then she would take it back into the kitchen and carve it, and

we re­ally were very, very thank­ful for our fam­ily all be­ing to­gether on Thanks­giv­ing day.

I al­ways liked pump­kin pie … my mother would make ap­ple pie and pump­kin pie, and the mince pie was left for Christ­mas time. We al­ways put off eat­ing the dessert un­til later in the evening be­cause we were too full af­ter the turkey din­ner to have dessert.

I met my wife here at Hershey’s Mill in May of 1944 and we were mar­ried the fol­low­ing year in Septem­ber. Hershey’s Mill has quite a place to re­mem­ber

be­cause we started to­gether and we’ll end up to­gether here. When I got mar­ried, we would al­ter­nate the Thanks­giv­ing day din­ners; my wife’s sis­ter’s was one year, then her mother’s was another year, then we would take the fol­low­ing year. We would al­ter­nate Thanks­giv­ing day so we would all be to­gether, just at a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion.

Jac­que­line Ne­mec

Well, the thing that stands out in my mind is my father pre­par­ing the turkey to be baked on Thanks­giv­ing. And he had a spe­cial recipe for the stuff­ing, of course each fam­ily does, but we thought ours was the best. And it was a very tra­di­tional Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. I hap­pened to live near a high school, and so we could hear the foot­ball game go­ing on at the lo­cal high school, which was al­ways fun to hear in the back­ground. It was sev­eral blocks away but the sound car­ried.

Other than that, the other

thing I re­mem­ber is my fam­ily ba­si­cally is … Well, my mother is first gen­er­a­tion in this county and my father ac­tu­ally came from Europe. And so af­ter a big din­ner we would walk in the neigh­bor­hood, and walk off that din­ner, and feel more com­fort­able. And then there would be con­ver­sa­tion af­ter­wards, my father and my­self ba­si­cally would talk, that’s about all I re­mem­ber, there was noth­ing su­per spe­cial, you know, other than just Thanks­giv­ing.

The usual was turkey, prob­a­bly a sweet potato casse­role, a veg­etable, and a bought pie since my mother did not bake, so it was some­thing pur­chased. And maybe a lit­tle bit of wine, although they weren’t big drinkers, but that was a spe­cial hol­i­day so there might have been a small glass of wine.

We were a very small fam­ily so it was just our own nu­clear fam­ily, which was com­prised of my par­ents, my sis­ter and my­self. But that was fine, we didn’t

have ex­tended fam­ily so that was fine. It was ba­si­cally the same ev­ery year. It was very pre­dictable, but it was fun, it was fun. And I do think in a smaller group, there’s more bond­ing if you will. We were a pretty tightly knit fam­ily. It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence for me.

Marge Kennedy

My fam­ily, my two broth­ers, my sis­ter, my par­ents and I al­ways had Thanks­giv­ing. An aunt and un­cle would come, they re­ally weren’t an aunt and un­cle though, we just called them that (laughs).

We would al­ways, if there was a foot­ball game or some­thing, we would al­ways of course al­ways watch the foot­ball games on Thanks­giv­ing. We had a good life, and we al­ways then would play cards or some­thing af­ter­wards, the fam­ily. And my broth­ers and my sis­ter and I were very com­pet­i­tive (laughs) play­ing cards!

Then when I went to nurs­ing school of course we al­ways had to work at the hospi­tal on Thanks­giv­ing so we had din­ner at the hospi­tal cafe­te­ria. And then af­ter that when I got mar­ried, I al­ways went to my hus­band’s sis­ter’s and brother-in-law for Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. That was al­ways very nice to be with his side of the fam­ily, my hus­band’s side of the fam­ily.

My par­ents were Scot­tish, and I was born in Scot­land, but I came here when I was six months old, that’s why there’s no ac­cent, no brogue. And my mother would make not your nor­mal pump­kin pie or pecan pie, she would make some­thing dif­fer­ent. It was fruit and whipped cream and lady fin­gers, but I can’t re­mem­ber the name of it. My mother was a great cook and she was tiny, and she could eat any­thing! At any rate, that’s what we did on Thanks­giv­ing.

Compiled and sub­mit­ted by Danielle Paterno, Direc­tor of Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions, Welling­ton at Hershey’s Mill, West Ch­ester.


Jac­que­line Ne­mec


Paul Crossan


Leonard Dick­er­son


Marge Kennedy

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