Thanksgiving Day in the 1940's

by Charles McGrath

It was the one day of the year when we could appreciate the abundance of special food. To put this day in perspective one has to recall that most of us only ate one big formal meal a week. That meal was served on Sunday. Usually it was a roast beef or something similar. Many people could not afford chicken. Chicken surprisingly was very expensive at that time. Turkey was even a notch higher than chicken. Today as you know chicken is the most reasonable of any meat.

The quality of the turkey meat in those years was horrible. The white meat was as dry as balsa wood. Without gravy it would have been uneatable. The only moist meat was the dark meat. Most kids would go for the drumsticks. We have to remember this was before the Butterball turkey. Impregnating it with fat which makes it much more palatable, was yet to be discovered.

It seemed like on this day all the teenagers in Vailsburg went to the most important sporting event of the year. It was the traditional football game between two local teams, West Side High School vs. Irvington High School. This game was always played at Irvington and we all walked to it. The game was played in the latter part of the morning with a lot of yelling and screaming. A good time was had by all. We would head home starved and sometimes half frozen. We all looked forward to the comfort of our warm home and the turkey dinner with all the dressings. It was a very special day not unlike this Thanksgiving!


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