Today most Americans are taking the day off from politics and gorging on turkey and family togetherness but what was different 50 years ago?

Thanksgiving in 60’s Boston

Thanksgiving is a holiday I’ve been cooking for since I was a college sophomore. Growing up in a country hotel in a small town (population 20) I was cooking family breakfasts at age 8 but in a commercial kitchen. In college I never washed dishes - I did all the cooking instead. Back in the 60’s Boston dorms were same sex and all freshmen lived in dorms or at home. Sophomore men were paired up living in apartments but the women were still living in women-only dorms where they had a 10 or 11 p.m.

curfew and most of the college men couldn't cook. Things loosened up after the summer of love and the war protests so by 1972 I moved onto an old retired racing yacht in the Harbor and my Irish Catholic girlfriend moved with me.

Thanksgiving food prices vs incomes in the 1960s

Thanksgiving ham was $0.49/pound and chicken was 25-cents/pound in 1965 America but minimum wage was only $1.25/hr. As students we ate chicken with mashed potatoes and sometimes a veggie or two, even a salad if we had dates over on holidays - none of us could afford to eat out very often.

Thanksgiving costs today

Turkey was as low as $1/pound this week and ham as low as $1.98/pound, minimum wage is generally $7.25. Unemployment is said to be a problem, but it takes up to two months to get a handyman to do minor repairs or even hire someone to rake leaves so I question that.

Thanksgiving at home today

Thanksgiving dawned chilly and rainy today - we had an extra warm fall but last week’s very early snow has now melted. There is a Walmart in Punxsutawney but here, 12 miles from town, there is a general store where you can get needful items and Stahlman’s Store is also where you get fuel. There are private butchers where people take a deer, pig, or a beef they raised at home.

This last summer we traded our sausage for fresh pork liver.

Dinner hasn’t changed much for me - I still do all the cooking. I’ll roast a turkey in an outdoor infrared smoker but some nut in the area will try it with a deep oil fryer. We’ll hear about his garage fire on tonight’s news. I just put fresh sourdough bread dough in the oven and I made brioche yesterday but with just two of us (and two St.

Weiler dogs) we will eat on trays, give the dogs some rawhide toys, and watch the parades early. Tonight I’ll make popcorn and chocolate ice cream from scratch, and we'll watch The Pittsburgh Steelers football game.

Giving thanks for good neighbors

My lady and I (not the same one from my old boat, but the only one since 1980) live near the home of Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil. Pennsylvania is still Penn’s woods here - we’re in a forest dense enough that we can’t see any neighbors even though some are within shouting distance. Good neighbors are important out in a rural area and we have friendly but not pushy neighbors - everyone is ready to help if asked, but otherwise we tend to ignore each other - nobody is overly nosy and “mind your own business” is the golden rule.

Thanksgiving is for families so we won’t see any neighbors today - but we’ll exchange Christmas gifts next month.

Most neighbors ranch on the side, raising hay and sheep or cattle, others raise corn and most keep horses for fun, except our Amish neighbors who use horses for transportation and farm work.

Guns everywhere are no problem

Despite the scary TV news there’s little violent crime here - every home near here has several guns - police response time is 30 minutes or longer for a real emergency, perhaps a day otherwise - but fire and ambulance response are fast - and volunteer. Our 2 acre lot hosts 4-5 white tail deer nightly and we often have a dozen wild turkeys walking around. Around here bear break into cabins and there’s a local family of coyote - but city people think we are gun nuts!