Bill Barron, 87
We put the turkey in the oven and it didn't get warm. We finally had sense enough to call the gas company emergency number. There's a dingus outside that is a pressure-reducing valve … we had to reset it. We were just a couple of hours late with dinner, but nobody minded. Another time we decided to go first class and get a fresh turkey. We got it home and opened it up and I swear you could smell it a block away. It was putrid. We caught up to the guy at the grocery store and got another one though.
Les Orear, 101
It was 1929 and I was at University of Wisconsin entering my freshman year when I saw a newspaper kiosk with the headline that the stock market crashed. I received a telegraph message ordering me to come home to Chicago to get a job. My family with my brothers ages 3 and 4 moved in with a neighbor. Thanksgiving was coming closer and we hardly had bread let alone an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner. But it has a better ending than beginning. I finally did get a job with a chain of restaurants … for 12 cents an hour. I looked over the steam table before leaving for the night to see what was left. I took it home in a paper sack. Our extended family shared several spoonfuls of Polish sausage and cabbage and stuff like that. You make do with what you've got.
Barbara Wilson, 85
My daughter and her husband were grad students and came home for Thanksgiving, our favorite holiday. I usually fix pumpkin and mince pies, but my daughter requested apple because it's her husband's favorite. I got up early to fix the pies and we were short on counter space so I put them to cool on the dryer. My son-in-law was doing the necessary laundry including something heavy and the dryer shook until the apple pie fell on the floor face down. My golden retrievers had the happiest Thanksgiving of their lives.
Marie Albritton, 95
During the Depression we were thrifty and were taught if you put it on your plate you must eat it. My mother baked a goose for Thanksgiving and made pudding for dessert. She put the fat in a jar. We saved it then and used it for medicinal purposes. My dad couldn't wait for dessert so he got up and got some pudding and thought he was pouring on the topping. He had swallowed a mouthful of goose grease.
Mary Lou Shadle, 77
We spent Thanksgivings on Washington Island at our cottage. It's in the middle of Lake Michigan so you have to take a car ferry. Nothing would be open so we had to take everything with us. We let our wired hair dachshund roam free there. On Thanksgiving she found a skunk — or the skunk found her. She came to the house just smelling awful. We were told to wash her in tomato juice but nobody had any and everything was closed. We finally found a bar and got bloody mary mix and washed the dog in bloody mary mix.
Marion Roberts, 94
My Aunt (Ruth) lavishly prepared Thanksgiving, but she got sick one year. I had four children so we decided to go to a new restaurant that was getting good reviews and had Aunt Ruth as our guest. We dressed in our Sunday best and it lived up to its reputation. Afterward my mom asked my children what they thought. My eldest though, he said 'I liked it, but there are no leftovers.' That was the end of spending Thanksgiving away from home.
John Higley, 78
One Thanksgiving I prepared our turkey in a new way. It was totally submerged in herb and lemon infused brine for 24 hours. I opened the oven door and having pulled the rack out a little too far, the roasting pan, like a powerful diesel locomotive, started moving forward. Trying to stop it with my mitted left hand … the turkey went airborne and hit the floor. It slid in a straight path for about 10 feet, spewing stuffing and basting sauce behind it like someone with the flu. After shock and several explicatives, I got the turkey back in the pan and once again in the oven. Shortly after dinner had commenced, one of the guests said, "This turkey tastes wonderful and is so moist. What did you do for such results?" I replied, "I call this brine soaked, floor basted turkey — but we're a little short of stuffing."
Ada Spanier, 92
I was 20 years old and my boyfriend was anxious to get married, but he couldn't get any time off so we decided to get married on Thanksgiving Day. We had no money so I went to a discount store and bought a red velvet dress. It was a little unusual, but it was stunning. I was the star of the day, but there wasn't any turkey.