I’m sure most of you are aware that Thanksgiving this year falls on the latest date it can possibly be, much to the hand-wringing dismay of Christmas retailers. And we’ve all been getting the “early Black Friday” emails and advertisements to prove it.
Have you ever noticed that when life gets hectic, traffic gets heavy, commercialism becomes more intrusive than usual, and patience wears thin – as often happens around the holidays – that we hanker for an “old-fashioned” version of the holiday? I know I do.
So what would an old-fashioned Thanksgiving be like? Most of us draw upon childhood memories in constructing that image. (And of course as kiddos we didn’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning, or Uncle Fred’s antics after having a few too many). We envision a slower pace, simple fare, family around us, catching our breaths, and being thankful.
Being the history
junkie dilettante that I am, when I think “old-fashioned” I think of “old.” So naturally I looked up early-twentieth century newspaper articles to share with you.
I think what will surprise you most is what we have in common with the people of those days in preparing for and celebrating Thanksgiving. Yep – food, football, and shopping! Today we’ll focus on the shopping, and then the next two Tuesdays we’ll talk about football and food.
Retailers from a hundred years ago were just as eager to entice holiday shoppers as they are today. And they used the same tactics: the SALE and the GIVEAWAY.
In this advertisement from the East Oregonian (Evening Edition), November 18, 1910, there are choices aplenty for budget-conscious shoppers:
Notice the food portion of the advertisement is just a teeny paragraph on the lower left side? I was surprised it wasn’t more prominent. In fact, it was similar in size to the Children’s Underwear section.
Quick! All of Johnny’s tighty-whities have holes in them, and Grandma’s coming over!
But what’s with the bear skin? Is that really what folks back then were running out to buy right before the Thanksgiving feast?
(Burt Reynolds may come to mind for some of us. For you youngsters, if you Google “Burt Reynolds bear skin” you’ll see what I’m talking about).
Even today, stores like to give away freebies to draw in shoppers. What’s the best freebie at Thanksgiving time? The turkey, of course. According to this advertisement, Wentworth Clothing House made it a tradition:
After all, who can resist a free turkey?
Speaking of giving away free turkeys, I’d like to leave you with a clip from WKRP in Cincinnati. I think you’ll get a kick out of it!
Until next time, keep those turkeys grounded.
19 thoughts on “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving?”
Food and kids’ underwear had equal coverage?!? (Whoops! No pun intended. ;)) That’s craziness, yet not all that surprising. Great post, Kathy! Hope you and yours have a wonderful Turkey Day.
Thanks, August! A happy Turkey Day to you, too! I have a lot to be thankful for.
Kathy – Oh, that WKRP episode is absolutely classic! Thanks for the reminder. And you know it does give me an odd sense of comfort that those folks had to deal with ad-bombardment just as we do….
Some things never change, right Margot? LOL! Glad I’m not the only one who remembers WKRP…
One of the greatest sitcom lines of all times: I thought turkeys could fly! Thanks for the laughs, Kathy.
LOL, Kass, that line has been running through my head all day: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” Priceless!
LOL, WKRP in Cincinnati. Wow, that took me back. That show was hilarious. I had forgotten about it. Thanks for sharing Kathy. 🙂
You bet, Karen! It was a fun show. Glad you could stop by!
Loved that show! And I don’t know why! but it makes me feel better about our society today that even back in the good old days retailers were using holidays as promotion.
I know what you mean, Amy! Good old fashioned greed, LOL. 😉
Well, you don’t have to explain the Burt & bear skin reference to me. LOL! Thanks for sharing a little Thanksgiving history! This one is my favorite holiday.
There’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving, and definitely lower-key than the one following it! Thanks for stopping by, Julie. 🙂
I used to love WKRP. That was a great show.
So, shopping and Thanksgiving have always gone hand in hand, huh? Who knew? Poor old Thanksgiving is practically wiped off the calendar these days. I saw my first Christmas commercial on TV before halloween this year. I cringed. It’s not right.
The only thing folks look forward to at Thanksgiving is having 4 days off in a row. So many people eat out these days, it’s sad. I usually cook a big meal even if it’s just for me and my husband. It doesn’t seem right to eat out on Thanksgiving.
Oh well. It’s a sad state of affairs.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Any chance to sell stuff. It’s the American way! I loved WKRP, too, Patricia!
That was really fun to read. I had no idea that the people of the past were such consumers! I would have imagined they didn’t go holiday shopping like we do. Who knew! The thing I remember most about Thanksgiving is being in the kitchen with my parents, eating yummy food all day long, and spending the weekend in our pajamas watching movies. Fun times!
What fab memories, Emma! So glad you could stop by and share. Happy Thanksgiving! 😀
This is great. Love the old ads. Seems they were all looking to make those holiday dollars too. Still, I’m sure there was no Black friday craziness or stores open on Thanksgiving back then.
Hi, Phil! Those ads are so low-key compared to what we see these days, aren’t they? And folks aren’t camping out in front of the stores weeks ahead of time, either. 😉
Nice to see you, and thanks for stopping by!
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