A Thanksgiving feast
by Whitley Clifton | November 29, 2019 11:00 am
Last Updated: November 27, 2019 at 11:19 am
There was always lots of company at Grandpa’s house on Thanksgiving. Grandma would pull up her long, flowered dress with both hands and chase the young flock of chickens around the yard until she had caught five or six of them.
The preacher always came with his stiff, clerical collar and appropriate black tie. He would say grace over the magnificent feast of fried chicken, turkey and gravy, cornmeal dressing fit for a king, homemade yeast rolls, tender collard greens, and every other food and dessert that would tempt a person to overindulge for the Thanksgiving holidays and ruin their diet.
Grandma would patrol the long dinner table, making sure her 10 mischievous children stayed in line. If one of the children reached for a third piece of fried chicken, she would politely twist his or her earlobe until they got the message, “You’ve had enough. Leave some for the other guests.”
The room smelled of holiday cheer with warm spices and fragrances drifting across the long, wooden dinner table. Idle chatter swarmed around the table like bees in flight and the preacher, between eating another piece of fried chicken, discussed a Bible passage from the book of Revelation with Uncle Monroe.
The meal seemed to go on forever because good company and catching up on the latest gossip go hand-in-hand. It would be another year until all the family, friends, and neighbors would be united again.
After all the guests had dispersed with hugs and kisses, the Johnson family began to get ready for the Thanksgiving Day horse race. It was an annual event, and all the farmers looked forward to it for a whole year. They had secretly placed bets without their wives knowing.
Grandpa Tobe selectively seated all of his 10 children in his prized Ford Model T. He somehow stacked them in like sardines because there was limited space. There was little room left up front for Grandpa and Grandma.
They took off to a field close to the city of Garfield where the horse race was held. I believe it was on John Baby Lewis’ property.
The sparkling black Model T bounced over washboard roads and jostled the stomachs of the occupants inside. The children had spread out from their orderly position in the back seat and hanging out the windows became the norm.
Grandpa entered the road that led to the horse race but somehow, he took a “Do not enter road.” The Model T Ford was squarely on the center of the raceway with sweaty, snorting horses breathing down on them. Grandpa shot the juice to his trusty Ford and barely crossed the finish line before the horses followed.