Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Few Thanksgiving Memories Across the Miles

In1968 when I was a college sophomore at Oklahoma State University I decided to go to Southern Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with my biological parents and 4 younger siblings. This was instead of going with my Grandfather Robert for the usual meal at my Aunt Boots’ home in Tulsa. My part-time clerical position at the OSU football office provided me enough spare cash to hop a Greyhound bus and travel there, some 700 miles northeast. My family lived in the remote small town of Ullin, Illinois and I had to go through Saint Louis to get there. When I got to the St. Louis, I asked the male bus station attendant what bus I needed to take next. He answered me so quickly and curtly I didn’t really understood a word he said, but I was way too shy to ask him to repeat it. I figured I could understand what was going on once I heard it on the bus depot speakers. As it turned out that didn’t work and I missed the connecting bus to rural southern Illinois for that day. That night I spent Thanksgiving Eve in the bus terminal bathroom trying to sleep in a chair.
My family was too poor for a phone, so I called my brother, Matt in sixth grade at the elementary school he attended. I told him to tell my folks, that I would be a day late arriving Thanksgiving night because I missed the bus. When I finally got to Ullin Thanksgiving night, my Dad, Bob had prepared a traditional upstate New York turkey dinner with sage dressing, pumpkin pie and the trimmings.
In 1971 I started having Thanksgivings with my first husband’s big extended family the Spesses in Cleveland, Oklahoma. Lindy‘s Grandma Ruby would prepare the turkeys, dressing and pineapple cream pies. The rest of the fixings were brought in by all the relatives. The Spesses were affluent conservative Republican oil people, but good folks, despite the flaw of having too much money, being too conservative and living and breathing sports. In Oklahoma the culture always seem to revolve around sports, family and church and the Spesses were no exception. After the big Thanksgiving meal the Spess family gathered in front of the TV to watch the big football game between Oklahoma State University Cowboys or Oklahoma University Sooners or one of the other various opposing Midwest football teams such as the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Arkansas Razorbacks or whoever. Much to their shock and dismay, I would adjourn to a bedroom for a nap with a book.

My Dad, Bob, Me-Mary &
 my Mom,  Bobbie Jean
Thanksgiving 1973,Thebes, Illinois

In 1973 Lindy and I decided to drive from Tulsa to southern Illinois to have a shot at Thanksgiving with my eccentric and economical challenged family in Thebes, Illinois. We did not drive through St. Louis however. Again my Dad had a meal prepared and the little house was decorated early for Christmas and our arrival. The daunting highlight of the trip, was surviving the drive back through Joplin at night in blinding white out snow. After 34 years in Alaska it seems like no great feat, but for us Okies then, it was a miracle we made it back to Tulsa in one piece.

Mom, Bobbie, Sister Angie, Me - Mary, Rose & Abe,
Thebes, Illinois 1973 - brother Matt was in the Navy
so not at the Thanksgiving event.

Rose & Abe Phillips, Thanksgiving 1973

1979 Thanksgiving with Okies, Ronnie & Maggie
Anchorage, Alaska
In 1978 I had my first Alaskan Thanksgiving with vegetarian friends, thus my first meatless turkey free Thanksgiving. During my early Alaskan Thanksgiving years, dinner was always with friends, many transplants from Oklahoma who have since returned.  In 1979 four of us from Oklahoma prepared a grand feast and afterwards took a drive to Palmer in my new car.
Road trip to Palmer, Alaska, Thanksgiving 1979
In 1981, my future husband, Joe fixed Turkey dinner for my sister, Angie and I. In 1982, once Joe and I married and he continued to cook the turkey on Thanksgiving with my assistance. Joe, a bachelor for some forty years, is no slouch in the kitchen. For a number of years Joe could never quite get food in particular meat as done, or “burnt“ as he would say, as I like it. Now that he is a Vegan there is no problem with undercooked meat. This year I will have my second vegetarian Thanksgiving with Joe at the Vegan Potluck which so happens to be in Palmer where I last went on Thanksgiving in 1979, a mere 33 years ago.
One year in 1992 we bought a camcorder and decided to record the entire Thanksgiving event. It was the year we made asses of ourselves drinking too much wine with several friends and decided to cut back on booze at Thanksgiving after that. There is nothing more sobering than seeing oneself three sheets to the wind on camera.
 Joe and I have only missed Thanksgiving on Wendy’s Way a few times. One year we made the decision to eat out. Eating out is always my first choice, but for some reason not at Thanksgiving. We tried the Cattle Company and it didn’t work, perhaps because turkey isn‘t their specialty.   As another Thanksgiving draws near, I say perhaps strangely to some but proudly for me I’m a month short of being 64 years old and have yet to cook a turkey and to my dying day, probably never will, especially now that my husband is full fledged Vegan Vegetarian. If cooking a turkey depended on me, there would be a turkey glut on the exchange market and everyone would be a Vegetarian without a doubt.

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