Four days before Thanksgiving, Roy headed home. An early cold snap had closed the logging camp down for the winter. He’d miss making a little more money for the year, but he welcomed the chance to relax in his parents’ cozy house.
On his first morning home as he stood on his parent’s porch and spotted Mae out walking. He sprang down the steps and scurried over to her side. “Would you mind a little company as you walk?”
She tilted her head demurely. “Not at all.”
At the next block they headed west on Pioneer. As Spinning school came into sight Mae stopped in front of the handsome, two-story, brick building.
“It’s quite a school compared the one room one I attended. Did you go there?”
“I did though not continuously. I went for first grade and finished with the seventh and eighth grade. In between, we were mostly in Oklahoma. School there only went for three months a year, mostly in the winter, consequently it took me forever to finish.”
Mae nodded. I can understand that in Wyoming winters were often too cold, so we often didn’t finish our school term into well into summer.”
Where in Wyoming?” Roy asked as they began to walk again.
“A little place called Mona,” said Mae.” It’s in the Black Hills in an area called the Bear Mountains. I guess Aladdin would be the nearest place you’d be likely to find on a map.”
I am a bit familiar with the Black Hills, said Roy, your place must be near the South Dakota borderline.”
Yes, in fact we got most of our supplies there.”
“Did your dad ranch?”
“Yes, he came there as a homesteader with my grandparents and his many aunts and uncles. He still owns the place but he’s renting it now to my cousin.”
“Ahh,” said Roy, “that’s something we have in common as my dad homesteaded too, in Kansas where I was born, and then in Oklahoma.”
At Main Street they headed north toward the fairgrounds. They strolled past the big, white, wooden roller coaster.
Roy gazed at the structure. “Did you get s chance to go to the fair in September?”
Mae nodded, “Lillian and I went, but we chickened out of riding this roller coaster.”
“That’s a shame,” said Roy. “I’ve ridden it. It’s quite a thrill.”
“If I’d a handsome hunk like you to protect me, I might have gone. We did ride the merry- go- round. If you’d been along, we could have ridden double. I miss my horse.”
“The merry-go-round horse,” he teased.
Mae’s eyes crinkled in laughter. “No, my real l horse. The one I left in Wyoming. I hope my cousin is taking good care of Drummer.”
Roy nodded. “I had a horse when we lived in Oklahoma. Nowadays I am quite content to walk or catch a train.”
They turned around to walk back toward home. A car beeped its’ horn at them as they crossed the street.
“You never see automobiles where we live in the Black Hills.” said Mae.
“Didn’t see them here either until a few years ago when Doc Kushner bought one. He nodded to the showroom window they passed, full of new cars. “Times are a changing, that’s for sure.”
When they walked back down their block for home, Roy asked. How would you like to join me for a movie in town tomorrow? I’ll ask Lida along so we’ll be chaperoned.”
“I’d love to,” she said.
“Great, I’ll find out what time it’s playing let you know later today,”
He watched her as she climbed the scant steps to her porch. When she reached the door, she turned and waved, sending his heart into flip flops. Justin is right, maturity matters more than age.
They had the best time going to the movie. Lida and Hazel bounced ahead of them as they walked to town, leaving him and Mae to carry on a conversation without them. Afterwards, he’d treated them to chicken dinner at the diner.
Thanksgiving morning, the sun peeking through the windows awakened him. Reluctant to get out of his warm bed, he yawned and stretched. Logging camp never allowed him the luxury of sleeping in. Below him he heard his mother and sister bustling in the kitchen. His stomach growled thinking of the feast awaiting him later. He could hardly wait, well, that and the fact that Mae would be there.
He forced himself to crawl out of his cozy, warm bed. Throwing on his overcoat he made a bee line to the necessary house out back and back up the stairs where he splashed the chilly water from the pitcher on his face and pulled from the closet his best suit of clothes. Once dressed he headed back down the stairs. The scent of turkey roasting mingled with spices and the yeasty smell of bread rising accosted his nose on entering the kitchen.
His mother looked up from the pot she stirred. “I’m glad you slept in; you work too hard in the woods.” She nodded toward the dining nook in the corner. “I left a light breakfast on the table for you, everyone else has eaten. Help yourself to coffee.”
Roy took a cup from the cupboard and filled it from the coffee pot simmering on the stove. Careful not to spill, he carried it over to the nook and settled himself on the bench beside the table. He reached for the bread, jam, and fruit his mother had left for him. “Who all will be here for dinner?”
His mother wiped her hands on her apron. “Well, there’s your dad and I, you boys and Lida, Aunt Ida, and the Phillips family. So, the answer is twelve.”
Roy finished eating and took his plate and cup to the to the sink.
“Do you need me to help?”
She pointed to the cupboards. Your father and brothers have gone to fetch Aunt Ida so I could use someone to get my good china down.”
Roy carried the china to the dining room table covered in a freshly ironed white, embroidered tablecloth.
“Anything else you’d like me to do?”
“No, that’s it for now. Why don’t you work up an appetite by going for a walk?”
Roy rubbed his stomach. “Not needed; the smell of that turkey roasting is driving me wild. But I can tell when I am not wanted and walk does sound nice.”
Grabbing his hat and over coat from the hook in the front foyer he headed down the front steps. He felt disappointed when he saw no one out on the street. He’d prefer to have someone to walk with especially if it we’re Mae. He headed over to the Henry’s and found Justin and Lillian in her yard. He joined them in conversation.
After a while he looked at his pocket watch. “Goodness look at the time. I’d better be off for home. Mother will throttle me if I am late for her dinner. “
As he approached the house, he spotted Lida in the parlor window. She opened the front door. “It’s about time you got home. Our guests have arrived and you’ve been sauntering around town.”
“Sorry,” he said, “I lost track of time.”
Hanging up his overcoat and hat on the coat tree, he stepped into the parlor where his dad, brothers, and Mr. Phillips sat conversing.
“Spotted you talking to Justin and Lillian.” said his father, “I imagine they caught you up on all the latest news.”
Roy nodded, finding a place to sit. “Sorry, I’m the last one here.”
“Your Father was just telling us about his time in Andersonville prison,” said Mr. Phillips. “It’s a wonder he survived.
“Well, I for one am glad he did,” said Roy.
His brother Richard laughed. “We wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t.”
Mr. Phillips smiled, “I guess not. Your brothers were telling me they had a good year harvesting the wheat and apple crops east of the mountains. Still finding plenty of trees to cut down, are you?”
Roy shifted in his chair, “Don’t suppose they’ll ever run out of enormous trees.”
Mr. Phillips nodded. “They’re sure bigger than the timber we have in the Black Hills. I hear they feed you well out in those woods.”
“True,” said Roy. “But our cook quit in September. Another logger agreed to take the job but only until someone complained.”
“Goodness how did that work out?” asked Mae walking into the room.
“He’d been a cook before, so he did okay.”
“Did anyone complain?” asked Mae.
“No, but one day, but he got tired of cooking so added a box full of salt to the soup. One of the men took a taste and said, “My, this soup is salty.”
Then he remembered the complaining rule and added, “Just the way I like it.”
Laughter filled the room.
“Oh my, she said that is funny. Did he quit?” asked Mae
“No, but they soon found us a new cook.”
Mae clapped her hands. “I almost forgot I’m supposed to say dinner is ready.”
Roy jumped from his chair to be the first to follow Mae into the dining room. A large roasted turkey sat at the head of the table while steam rose off dishes of yams, mashed potatoes, beans, and cornbread stuffing.
Roy pulled out a chair for Mae “Allow me.”
“Thank you,” she said as she sat.
She patted the chair next to her. “And please take this one next to me.”
Roy wasted no time in doing so.
After everyone took their seats his mother bowed her head, “let us give thanks.”
Everyone bowed their heads in thanksgiving.
Raising her head back up, his mother handed his dad the carving knife. “Let the feasting begin.”
His dad began to carve the turkey as the other savory dishes were passed around. Soon heaps of turkey dressing, mashed potatoes, beans, rolls, and salad sat on everyone’s plate.
Roy swallowed a bit of mashed potatoes and turned to Mae. “Would you like to accompany me to the new movie starting Saturday? Hazel could go too.”
“I can’t speak for her,” said Mae, “but I’d love to go.”
Both of my grandparents made references to this special Thanksgiving dinner in 1912 in their letters to each other. Also they referenced going out to movies and for meals together.
According to my grandfather his dad often referred to his experiences in Andersonville prison during the civil war.
The story of the salt in the soup was a favorite my grandfather told of his logging experiences.
The first car in Puyallup was owned by Doc Kushner according to Puyallup history.