The Tuna Fish Thanksgiving
As this old guy sits here on the prairie and the Thanksgiving holiday nears, a melancholy wave rolls over me. From my humble Rollohome I sit here with my two Siamese friends and reflect on Thanksgivings past.
This holiday brings back images from other times. Some are images of the type of picture one might expect. There are the images of being home with family, a table groaning under the weight of the food associated with this most American of holidays, and sisters and brother all near and football on TV and after the feast, and a fair bit of wine and for some, naps.
Over the years, my Thanksgivings have been warm and times that I’ve enjoyed with family, going back to my days as a youngster, which basically ended in 1959 when I joined the Army, and would begin missing Thanksgiving at homes, at least at my parent’s home.
The first Thanksgiving I missed in Carrington was in 1959. The weekend before Thanksgiving, I was on KP duty at the mess hall at Fort Devens, MA. It was a Saturday, and as the end of the day was approaching, I noticed a chance to change the character of the upcoming holiday. One of our number was married and lived off post. So, as I was in the process of cleaning up and looking about the mess hall, I noticed a large number of chickens, and a supply of other food that could all go into the making of a Thanksgiving dinner.
Having seen that, I hatched a plan to steal a number of said chickens, along with a sheet pan of brownies, needed for desert, and some other food stuffs to help make our feast off post at our friends small apartment. I found a place outside of the mess hall where I could stash the food we were going to use for our own holiday meal.
I began to systematically wrap chickens and put all of our ill gotten goods out the back door of the mess hall, and when we were finished for the night, and under the cover of darkness, we loaded it into the car of our friend.
The following Thanksgiving Day, along with the appropriate amount of wine and spirits we all enjoyed a meal made even more delicious by our having pulled off the food theft that would become known, at least to us, as the “Great Thanksgiving Day Heist.”
Even at 19 years of age, we were showing signs of being able to improvise, something that, in the military, is valued, or so we thought. It was, as I reflect, a great Thanksgiving.
Now, fast forward to 1976. The years between 1959 and 1976 had been years of many Thanksgiving feasts with family and friends. In the meantime, I had been married, we had a son in 1974, and enjoyed many of those days with our own family.
Unfortunately, in 1976, those days would become memories, as I had become separated from my wife, Mary Ann, in October of that year. It was something that I had precipitated, and it changed the nature of the holiday for several years to come.
That year, on Thanksgiving Day, my brother Jerry, who was working on the ABM site near Nekoma, drove to Grand Forks, and we had Thanksgiving dinner at The Village Inn Pancake House on the west side of Grand Forks that afternoon. As I recall, I had bacon, eggs, hash browns and later that day went to Whitey’s in East Grand Forks.
The following year, I was living in a small apartment at the back of a house, and when Thanksgiving rolled around again, I was wondering what I should do to mark the holiday this year. As I sat there alone in my small apartment, looking at the little black and white TV, like five inch screen little, I had to decide what I was going to eat for Thanksgiving.
Football was on the TV, and I had my fill of coffee, and that’s when it struck me. I would have a Tuna salad sandwich.
It was no ordinary Tuna salad sandwich. After I got done going through the cupboard, I had made what was the most memorable Tuna salad sandwich I had ever had.
After the sandwich, the game and a short nap, I went to Whitey’s, and I thought it was a fine Thanksgiving, all things considered.
The moral: No matter where you are, what your situation is, or how much you miss what you once had, you can always make yourself a killer Tuna salad sandwich and watch a football game, and be thankful you can do that.
To all who read this, my wish to you is to have a Thanksgiving to remember.