From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society

I feel Thanksgiving is the holiday that more than any other means family, home and tradition, particularly the traditions of childhood. My family lived in Weymouth until I was 15, but we always spent a lot of time in Rochester where my mother grew up. While Weymouth put our family in the middle between the towns, Winchester and Rochester, where our two sets of grandparents lived, it was Rochester and the home of our grandparents, Jim and Marion Hartley where Thanksgiving was celebrated for most of my childhood.  The old song, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go,” short of the sleigh was what we did.

            My Grandparents’ house on Snipatuit Road was almost 250 yrs. old when I was born, and it had no doubt witnessed many Thanksgiving Day feasts. The house rambled and every room: kitchen, living room and dining room was big enough to accommodate a crowd. The dining room was big enough that my grandparents, our family, and our uncle, aunt and cousins all fit around the same table, once all the extra leaves were in place.

            Of course, getting together with our cousins was every bit as important as the meal. Touch football in the large yard always capped off the day, but back to the meal and some of the foods that still mean Thanksgiving; creamed onions ( I didn’t like them), turnips,(I did like turnip) and pies, including mock cherry pie, a recipe better known in Rochester than elsewhere.

            It’s interesting which childhood memories stay with you. When the platter of turkey would be passed, inevitably someone would say that they only wanted white meat and just as inevitably my Grandfather would say,” Crows have white meat.” As a child I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, but I do know I ate my share of dark meat from the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

By Connie Eshbach

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