Rural Community’s Friendsgiving–1922

Hello Friends!

The hard economic times and food shortages brought about by World War I were the impetus for a small Kansas community to launch what would become a years-long tradition — a Community Thankfeast. Demonstrations of industry, generosity, reverence, patriotism, compassion, and hospitality accompanied the overarching sentiment of gratitude as folks, young and old, gathered for not only a Thanksgiving banquet but also for a patriotic program put on by the school children. Supper (Yes! an additional meal of the overabundance) followed by music and dancing through the evening wrapped up the day. Guests from out of town were welcome and in some years the attendance swelled to twice the population. Donations of 35 cents per person–for those who could pay–were collected and donated to the community church and school.

I hope you enjoy this heartwarming story.

Elaine

Kansas Folk Get Together

Dinner

In our rural town of about 220 inhabitants, we host what we call Our Annual Thankfeast. About two weeks before Thanksgiving, the women of the community, meet and elect a captain who appoints important committees and has charge of the affair. A soliciting committee composed of several groups, canvases the town and surrounding country for edibles of all kinds, to be served at the community feast on Thanksgiving Day. These are donated. Things are prepared as far as possible at home although the dinner is served in a large hall, where fully a dozen efficient cooks are busy warming up meats, cooking potatoes, dumplings, gravy, coffee. These cooks, decorators, and table arrangers meet in the afternoon preceding the dinner, stoves are arranged, tables spread, vegetables prepared, decorations completed and everything made ready for a glorious morrow.

Come rain, come shine the town is full of guests throughout the following day. There is also a large church attendance. Before the dinner is served, thanks are offered up to the Bountiful Giver of all things. The charge for the dinner is 35 cents.

No amount of expense or culinary art in the individual homes could provide the variety of choice foods which in this way are served to the public. Then there is the delightful companionship, the intermingling of old and young, the gaiety and reverence for the occasion.

Entertainment

After dinner, while clearing away and washing the dishes, groups have a social good time visiting; others go out-of-doors where contests are put on for small prizes.

About three in the afternoon the children, who have been well trained by the teachers put on a creditable, patriotic program. They are equipped with caps and streamers of red, white and blue, and march through the street. When they reach the flag pole, the flag is hoisted with appropriate honors, while the crowd listens to a brief oration and joins with the children in singing The Star Spangled Banner. Supper is then served on the long tables arranged to seat as high as 250 guests. Sometimes five or six hundred are fed during the day.

Later, there is dancing for those who wish. Others listen to the music and visit.

The entertainment is sometimes free; sometimes ten cents is charged. Funds not used to pay expenses, go to either church or school. Poor and rich fare alike. Those whom it is known cannot pay are served free of any charge and engage in the festivities of the day with their neighbors. It is a democratic gathering, where superiority and wealth go entirely unnoticed and true worth is extolled. It is a gala day of thanks, joy, solicitous endeavor, pleasure, and happy contentment for this rural community. The happy custom originated during the war when foods were scarce and prices high and has been successfully carried out since, making a joyful community day for all.

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

The article above was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine for Farm Women November 1922, Webb Publishing Company, St Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Grocery Ads — Week Before Thanksgiving 1921

Hello Friends!

In the following grocery ads from 1921, we not only find traditional Thanksgiving ingredients such as canned pumpkin, oysters, celery, and cranberries but there are great prices on enamel roasters that “make the old hen taste like a spring chicken” as well as aluminum cake pans, pie plates and measuring cups. For something a little fancier for the holidays, there are glass baking and serving pieces available at Johnson’s Hardware. I hope things are coming together for your Thanksgiving feast.

Elaine

Cannon Falls Beacon, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 1921
Henry Langlie Groceries and Meats, Lanesboro, Minnesota November 1921
Morris Tribune, Morris, Minnesota, November 1921
Cannon Falls Beacon, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 1921
Cannon Falls Beacon, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 1921
Morris Tribune, Morris, Minnesota, November 1921
Cannon Falls Beacon, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 1921

Johnson’s Hardware, Preston Times, Preston Minnesota, November 1921

Pine Island Record, Pine Island, Minnesota, November 1921
Preston Times, Preston, Minnesota, November 1921
Cannon Falls Beacon, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 1921
Faribault Journal, Faribault, Minnesota, November 1921

Letters From Our Farm Women: Young Women Found a Library–1926

Hello Friends,

A letter published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine for Farm Women in November 1926 tells of a group of recent high school graduates who pooled their time, effort, and money to found a library association in their rural town. In order to purchase books they “got up” entertainments of every type within the community. Little by little, these young women generated enough money to purchase books and a bookcase which was housed in a corner of a store in town. Each girl took her turn as volunteer librarian. They kept regularly scheduled hours but happily made accommodations for folks who only came to town on Sunday. In time, they were able to purchase a brick building in which to house their growing library. They met with great success and the library quickly became a gathering place for young and old alike. Happy Reading!

Elaine

Dear Friends: I am eligible for this letter-writing symposium (it seems like that rather than a “contest”) as I am a farmer’s daughter and for some years had charge of our farm, so am familiar with problems of country life.

How did I find books to read? The very first thing, after leaving school, fifteen of us girls started what we ambitiously called a Library Association. We each gave a dollar toward it. We “got up” entertainments. Our first was a concert by local talent, with tableaux and charades. We charged ten cents admission and made eight dollars. Next, we gave an “Antiquarian Supper.” At Christmas time, a cantata brought us enough so we could order a hundred books and have a bookcase made with doors that would lock. We kept this bookcase in a corner of the store and one of the girls acted as librarian, opening the bookcase two afternoons each week. Our pastor helped us select the books as we desired to read the best.

Then came more entertainments of one kind or another. As it was a small town with scattered farms, we did not make much money at any of them but we succeeded in raising about a hundred dollars a year for books. These were loaned to “outsiders” for five cents a month or fifty cents a year.

At length, a small brick building was offered for sale and we bought it, pledging ourselves to its payment, fifty dollars a year for six years. We bought no new books that year as we had to furnish the building. We had eight book stacks made. We had a table given us, also a chair and we found a second-hand stove. Not very elaborate but we felt so proud of our library.

We made candy that year, selling it to the few “summer people” who passed through and making enough to add three magazines to our list. We loaned these as books after they were a month old.

We now kept the library open two afternoons and two evenings of each week, from three to five, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, from seven to nine, Wednesday and Saturday evenings. For some who only came in to church Sundays, we would take four books from the library and by systematic exchanges supply a dozen families.

Of course, it took time to accumulate a library—for at no time were our earnings much over a hundred dollars a year but by careful buying, at the end of ten years, we had our building paid for and a thousand volumes on the shelves.

The library was a favorite gathering place for young and old, during the hours it was opened. Of course, all library service was freely given. How we did enjoy working for it as well as reading the books. W.P. California

Cooking With Ida–Preparing Turkey for Roasting–1924

In preparing this post, I have gained a great appreciation for rural farm women from the 1920s. The effort required to get a turkey butchered and processed for Thanksgiving dinner is labor-intensive, not to mention the time, effort, and expense of raising the bird, to begin with. The text regarding processing turkeys comes from Ida Bailey Allen’s cookbook, Cooking, Menus, Service 1924. The fact that this detailed information was included in her cookbook tells me that it was very pertinent for its time. The photographs of the processing come from the website Ask A Prepper (HERE). They are very helpful in understanding the whole process. The most surprising fact that I learned is that every turkey has a parson’s nose (aka pope’s nose). I hope you enjoy reading this post. It has given me one more thing to be thankful for in 2021–my turkey is fully processed and waiting for me at the grocery store!

Elaine

Picking

Both chicken and turkey are sold picked in city markets.

After killing, the bird is plunged into boiling water to loosen its feathers.

In the country, this usually is done at home and merely consists of picking the feathers from the bird. Chicken may be picked wet or dry, the dry picked being the best. Wet picking means that after killing the bird has been plunged in boiling water to loosen the feathers that they may be extracted more quickly. Wet-picked poultry does not keep as well as dry picked.

All pin feathers must be removed one at a time, either with the fingers or with a pair of nippers for the purpose.

Singeing

The long hairs on poultry must be removed by singeing. This is done either by holding the bird over a flame until the hairs are singed off or by applying a light twist of paper or a lighted wax taper (candle) to the flesh until the same results are obtained.

Drawing

Make a lengthwise cut through the leg at the knee joint; remove tendons.

Wash the turkey or chicken after singeing. Wipe carefully, remove the head, and if the sinews or tendons are to be removed make a lengthwise cut through the leg under what might be termed the knee joint, pick up the tendons one by one on a strong skewer and pull them from the drumstick. There are seven tendons, and if they are removed the drumstick will prove as tender as any other part of the bird. The butcher can do this readily by making the same cut, then putting the tendons over a hook, giving one twist and a pull, then they all come out together. His usual method of preparing a bird, however, is to chop off the legs at the joint, leaving the tendons in the drumstick.

Removing Crop and Giblets

Remove the crop (food bag) from the neck opening. Make a cross-cut at the vent, keeping this as small as possible, and remove the intestines, gizzard, heart, and liver, being careful not to break the gall bag which is attached to the liver; if broken, it spreads its bitter contents on every part of the bird which it touches. Pull out the windpipe after the intestines are removed, then take out the lungs, which are closely attached to the inner side of the backbone. Discard the intestines and windpipe, but keep the liver, gizzard, and heart to be cooked, minced, and added to the gravy. The inner part of the gizzard enclosed by a very tender skin must of course be removed, for this inner part is where the food is ground up and contains particles of stone and pebble.

Removing Oil Sack

Turn the bird over and cut out the oil bag which is found at the tip of the “parson’s nose” (the tail)—this is a little sack containing a thick yellow deposit strong in both odor and taste.

Wipe the inside of the bird with a damp cloth, stuff as desired, and sew or skewer up the vent before trussing.

To Skewer a Vent

Stick four or five wooden toothpicks through the skin from side to side of the vent then take a piece of white thread and fasten it cross-cross fashion, as a small boy fastens his shoelaces, tying it at the end. After the bird is cooked the toothpicks can be drawn out; the thread will come with them, and there will be no cord to entangle the knife of the carver.

To Truss a Turkey or Chicken, Duck or Goose

Cut the neck as close to the body as possible.

Trussing is a very simple process and is done to keep the bird in shape while cooking. Cut the neck as close to the body as possible (it may be added to the giblets and stewed for gravy), draw the skin of the neck over to the back, and secure with a skewer. Press the legs close to the sides of the bird, the knucklebones against the vent, tie them there and run a skewer through them, or fasten with a heavy thread carried right through the body of the bird by means of a trussing needle. Press the wings down toward the back of the bird and fasten theses also with a skewer or with the trussing needle. If any tying is done let it be under rather than over the body, as the marks of the cords will show if allowed to cross the breast.

The Roasting of Poultry

Allow twenty-five minutes to each pound. Begin the cooking in a hot oven—400-425 degrees—reduce it after the first then minutes, that the meat may cook gently.

Most people cook poultry breast uppermost; this, however, causes the juices to flow away from the breast, making it dry. The bird should be laid on its side during the early part of the cooking, then turned breast uppermost to finish.

There are roasting “saddles” on the market in which poultry can be suspended so that the breast does not have to lie in the fat in the pan. As with all meats, season when partly done, baste thoroughly and frequently to keep the flesh juicy and dredge with flour when beginning to brown to assist the browning and to give a rich thickness to the gravy.

Poultry may be stuffed if desired, both in the crop cavity and in the body, or the stuffing may be baked in a separate dish or pan and served as an accompaniment.

Roast chicken and turkey, being somewhat dry-fleshed, can be garnished with curls of bacon or with sausages cooked in the pan.

Roast Turkey

Clean a turkey according to directions given in the Roasting of Poultry, fill with potato, giblet, egg bread, chestnut, or oyster stuffing. Place on a rack in the dripping pan and cook according to general directions for roasting, allowing three hours for a turkey from eight to ten pounds.

Make plain or giblet gravy as directed, and serve the turkey with or without a garnish of sausages and cubes of cranberry jelly.

Irene Rich, an American film actress from the 1920s and 30s

Grocery Ads — Second Week in November 1921

Grocery Shopping in the 1920s

Hello Friends!

Grocery Ads this week offer various sweeteners from granulated sugar, sorghum syrup (similar to molasses), and maple-flavored pancake syrup. Cake flour and all-purpose flours are on sale just in time for holiday baking. Langlie’s meat department has several pork products in their ad. Dolva’s Cash Grocery has sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving and the North American Grocery has citron, lemon and orange peel for holiday fruit cakes and puddings. Cheese lovers will find cream cheese, brick cheese (probably an American-made cheddar), and Limburger available at The Independent Grocery. Other essentials such as coffee and tobacco are on sale this week as well. The final ad titled Saturday Specials is a collage of products and businesses that advertise weekly in the Cannon Falls Beacon.

It is interesting to note that the grocery stores represented here are independently owned “mom and pop” businesses, but in the 1920s America was on the cusp of serve-yourself shopping and grocery store chains.

Thanks for stopping by.

Elaine

Lone Star Grocery, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 12, 1921
Pantzke Bros. The Leading Grocer, Little Falls, Minnesota, November 11, 1921
Dolva’s Cash Grocery, Morris Tribune, Minnesota, November 11, 1921
The Independent Grocery, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 12, 1921
Henry Langlie Grocery Store, Lanesboro, Minnesota, November 10, 1921
North American Grocery Co. Little Falls, Minnesota, November 11, 1921
Cannon Falls Beacon, Minnesota, November 12,1921

Grocery Ads — November 1921

Levine Grocery Store 1920s, Minnesota

Welcome Friends!

Although rural women were very self-reliant in the 1920s there were some products that could not be produced on the farm such as sweeteners for baking. At that time bread, cakes, pies, and other desserts were considered just as important as meats, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products in acquiring the necessary daily calories for laborious farm work. This made sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and/or honey staples. Dried fruits and nuts may have been purchased either to add variety to the family’s pantry or for upcoming holiday baking. Coffee was another essential staple that could not be produced on the farm. Other advertised items would have been purchased to supplement the family’s food storage only if finances allowed.

The ads below came from rural Minnesota grocery stores in 1921. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I will post more weekly grocery ads so we can compare prices between then and now. Happy Grocery Shopping!

Elaine

Cannon Falls Beacon, November 4, 1921
Little Falls Herald, November 4, 1921
Levang’s Weekly Newspaper, November 3, 1921
Morris Tribune, November 4, 1921