Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods...... grandmother's house we go. That's the way it was for us in the 1930's and it is what is happening for so many people this weekend. And that's my grandmother's house to the left. It's the house my mother grew up in and it holds a lot of memories.

The house was built between 1900 and 1910 and is still looking good after a hundred years. And looking much the same (except for color) as it did when we made our annual Thanksgiving treks to Tuckahoe, New York. Or was it Yonkers? The house stands atop a hill halfway between the two cities and though the mail address was Tuckahoe it seemed as though we were closer to Yonkers to the west. And to top that, I went to school at School Number 8 in Bronxville. Figure that out if you can.

Thanksgiving was a ritualistic thing at "Gangie's" house. If we lived in Mount Vernon, or Fleetwood, or Shrub Oak, New York, or Ramsey, New Jersey, we'd load up the car early Thanksgiving morning and be at my grandmother's house by nine in the morning. The kitchen would already be emitting wonderful odors and the men (and boys) would be told to get out from underfoot. So the tradition was for all the men to walk several miles along the New York City aqueduct. We'd leave by ten in the morning and get back to the house by one-thirty or two in the afternoon hungry as could be and little fellers like me would be worn out before we even sat down to eat.
When "Gangie" would let me ring the Chinese gong everyone (including several boarders who helped keep the house financially afloat in the Depression years) trooped into the huge dining room to a table overloaded with the finest Thanksgiving dinner this side of heaven. And we would eat - and eat - and eat. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving in the finest American tradition.
And I would ride back home in the back seat of whatever 1930's car we had and sleep the whole thing off.
Once in a while we'd have a Thanksgiving surprise. Something like a major snowstorm. I remember one that was so severe that no one could drive home and so we camped out at the house on the hill until the next day - surviving on what dinner was left. But also enjoying sledding on the hills in seven or eight inches of snow (or more)
So for those of you who have the opportunity to have the family gather together - have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Treasure your family time together. Fifty or sixty years from now you will treasure the memory.

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