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Dayhoff: ‘We hope your stuffing was tasty’: Thanksgiving through the years in Carroll County

Welcome to Thanksgiving recovery weekend. Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday in Carroll County — probably because of our close ties to agriculture. Me, I’m a fan of any holiday in which food is involved.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, I got all the Christmas decorations out of the attic and set them in the front yard. I found an old wooden Santa Claus and promptly staked it prominently in the front yard.

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I decided to set out festive paper bag luminaries for that extra touch — like they do on Willis Street over the holidays. However, while testing the luminaries, one of the lunch bags went up in flames; set fire to the leaves and torched Santa Claus. You’ll read all about it tomorrow in the newspaper: “Local councilmember, Burns Santa Claus at the Stake — Local Officials Outraged, protests planned.”

To paraphrase a Thanksgiving poem I found many years ago: “We hope your stuffing was tasty, and your turkey plump. We hope your potatoes and gravy did not have any lumps. We hope your yams were delicious, and your pies took the prize. But most of all, we certainly hope that your Thanksgiving dinner will stay off your thighs.”

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“Happy Turkey,” digitally enhanced drawing by Kevin Dayhoff, Dec. 5, 2013
“Happy Turkey,” digitally enhanced drawing by Kevin Dayhoff, Dec. 5, 2013 (Kevin Dayhoff)

For unknown reasons, squash is served in many households on Thanksgiving. As much as I like vegetables, one food that does not exist on the Dayhoff’s Nutrition Pyramid (DNP) is squash. God created the squash as a joke. The word “squash” is Native-American for “mud disguised as plant.” Numerous attempts to improve the mud-like taste and texture of squash with herbs and spices manage to get squash to taste like seasoned and spiced mud. Just say so no to squash.

Newspaper accounts of past Carroll County events during the Thanksgiving holidays give us insight into the pressing matters of the community in years past.

For example, the Dec. 3, 1920, edition of the Union Bridge Pilot reported: “A pair of trousers was stolen early in the evening from the wash line of Mrs. John Pittinger about a week ago.”

The Nov. 27, 1897, American Sentinel carried an article that all of the 32 Chesapeake and Potomac Company telephone subscribers in the county had the opportunity “of hearing … a phonographic concert, over the long distance telephone, at the … Telephone Exchange, in the Wantz building, on Monday evening.”

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On Nov. 23, 1897, the same newspaper reported that “Thanksgiving day was observed in this city by the general cessation of business and by religious services in most of the churches. The union service at the Methodist Protestant Church was attended by a large congregation. The sermon ... was delivered by the Rev. C. S. Slagle, pastor of St. Paul’s Reformed Church.”

Not all the festivities were in churches and kitchens. The Democratic Advocate reported on Nov. 24, 1922: “On Friday evening an alarm of fire was sent in for a leaf fire at Western Maryland College. On the arrival of the fire company they were notified not to throw any water on the fire as they were initiating a student, it is said.

“Chief Shaeffer ordered the firemen to put the fire out at once, as it was close to a building. As the nozzlemen were throwing water on the blaze some students started throwing stones, one striking Fireman Harry Cootes in the head causing the blood to flow freely from his injury… This angered the members of the fire company and the students were chased with the stream of water...”

Speaking of Western Maryland College, how many folks remember when George Plimpton practiced with the Colts up at the college when he was researching his book, “Paper Lion?” A newspaper account from Nov. 22, 1971, reports: “George Plimpton, the unquenchable amateur, tries his hand as a rookie quarterback for the Baltimore Colts on ‘Plimpton! The Great Quarterback Sneak,’ a one-hour ABC television network special Friday, November 26 (1971) at 9:00 p.m. on WJZ-TV.”

Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday in Carroll County – probably because of our close ties to agriculture. Photograph by Kevin Dayhoff, November 2010.
Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday in Carroll County – probably because of our close ties to agriculture. Photograph by Kevin Dayhoff, November 2010. (Kevin Dayhoff)

As I am sure that you can imagine, since Thanksgiving involves food, I have written about it repeatedly over the years. Portions of this discussion — especially the admonitions about squash — merit repeating and have been published before.

This year, in response to the coronavirus, let our holidays be revealed in the compassionate support our community renders to fellow citizens who are less fortunate. As we begin the holiday season, let us reach out with care to those in need of food, shelter, and words of hope.

Please keep in your prayers, our men and women in uniform, our police officers, firefighters, emergency dispatchers and EMS providers; who worked all through the holiday in harm’s way, giving us an opportunity to have a safe holiday.

As we gather with our families over the holidays, may we ask that we be given patience, resolve, and wisdom in all that lies ahead for our great nation? At a time like this in our nation’s history, I am reminded that Thomas Jefferson once advised, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

Best wishes for a good Thanksgiving weekend. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Carroll County.
Best wishes for a good Thanksgiving weekend. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Carroll County. (Courtesy of the Historical Society of Carroll County)

On this Thanksgiving weekend be ever thankful that we can laugh, enjoy our families, revel in our freedoms, celebrate our great community, and be stronger because of our differences.

From our house to yours: Happy holidaze! You can have my squash.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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