Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Dash of Thanksgiving Humor

Local readers chuckled at this Thanksgiving illustration that appeared in the Quaker Street Review on November 17, 1892. Image obtained via

The holiday of Thanksgiving, during its long years of tradition, has been an occasion for giving solemn thanks and enjoying communion with family. However, Thanksgiving does have its lighter side. In celebration of Thanksgiving - and with tongue firmly in cheek - we offer humorous bits about Thanksgiving, gleaned from 19th-century Schenectady newspapers. Even 150 years ago, local residents had plenty of funny tidbits to share about Thanksgiving.

The most common, of course, is turkey humor:

"The most unhappy man we saw on Thanksgiving eve was a grocer. He had sold his last turkey, and company was coming. He had sold his last turkey, but he could get another, you know. And so, shutting up his store, he started off for the other turkey. He not only started, but he travelled. He went to Johnson's. He went to Stavers'. He went to Bronk's. He went to the head of State Street and down again to Frog Alley. He traveled Union Street to the extent of the College thereof, and he went in every other direction; but not a turkey could he find. And not a turkey had he - had he - all for Thanksgiving day. We expect our grocer said the usual thanks at his bountiful table, next day, but there was lacking a bit of heart in the matter. That's what comes from having too many customers. It's pretty bad when company comes."
 - Schenectady Daily Evening Star, 9 December 1865

"Never mind about the mythical raid on Cuba! There is no doubt of our citizens being extensively engaged in perfecting arrangements for a universal war on Turkey."
- Schenectady Daily Evening Star, 14 November 1863

"There was once a turkey ... But Thanksgiving day arrived by order of the Governor. And, as if the Governor had ordered the sacrifice, that turkey was beheaded ... we hope it will not be deemed immodest when we say, that the turkey adorned our table. He 'came on' dripping with fatness and 'extreme' with dressing. He was greasy with gravy and delicious as to smell. He was white and tender at the breast and savory at the bowels. His limbs were done to a nicety, and his wings emphatically good. In fact, He made the meal of the year, that turkey, and we shall never recur to the fact without regret that he didn't have a brother or a sister, or a dozen of both."
- Schenectady Evening Star and Times, 21 November 1862

"We would advise turkeys to roost high, if they expect to pass over the day unmolested."
- Quaker Street Review, 8 November 1894

And there's also, of course, humor about those who overindulge in drink when making merry on Thanksgiving:

"We are without a promised report of the temperance lecture last evening. Our reporter was invited out to a thanksgiving dinner and we haven't seen him since. We understand that he was seen about eleven o'clock last night in the neighborhood of the dry dock inquiring where the lecture was to be held. He stated that he had eaten so much turkey that he was obliged to take an overdose of the 'green seal' to quiet the squakings [sic] of the biped inside and that the medicine had got the better of him. Any information of his whereabouts will be thankfully received at this office, and no questions asked."
- Schenectady Daily Evening Star, 29 November 1867

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