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Remembering Thanksgivings past

Not all holiday memories have laughs and blue gobblers, but they all bring warm smiles of tasty dinners, of families circling a common table and of times cherished.

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Not all holiday memories have laughs and blue gobblers, but they all bring warm smiles of tasty dinners, of families circling a common table and of times cherished.

Irene McCarthy of South Point remembers her grandmother’s house.

"We slept on feather beds on the floor because there were so many of us spending the night," she said.

John Cooney of Huntington, W.Va., recalled from childhood days a similar crowd around the family table.

"Like Jimmy Dean said, we just had to take an old cold tater and wait."

Thelma Floyd spent many years with 10 siblings seated at Thanksgiving supper.

"There were so many of us, we had to have chicken," she said, her mouth wrinkling into a grin. "Oh, but I loved the dressing, it was my favorite, and the dumplings, all the food

"We weren’t even allowed to talk," Mrs. Floyd said with a laugh. "We were there to eat."

Alease Belcher, 70, of South Point remembers helping fix those eats – as a family.

Mrs. Belcher’s family lived on the Greenbrier River in West Virginia, and did what most did every Thanksgiving season.

"That’s hog killing time," she said. "They’d get to cleaning and grandma would have the liver cooked by the time they’d get done. We had turkey but they were wild ones."

After 70 years, Mrs. Belcher doesn’t see such Thanksgivings anymore.

Most dinners come store-bought now, and without the hog killing, she said.

But one treasured memory stays alive in her heart.

"We always managed to sit around the table as a family, the most important part."

Drucilla Lucas remembers the family table tradition, too, and how each feast started.

"There was never a time, sitting down at my mother’s table, we didn’t say a blessing," Mrs. Lucas said.

Beatrice Jordan, a young 81, smiled as she recalled Thanksgiving tales of her brother, Orville Conley.

"They’d have shooting matches, and all the good shots would get together," she said.

The usual prize? A nice, fat Thanksgiving turkey, she said.

"He’d most always win us that turkey and bring it home," Mrs. Jordan said. "I always remember one hanging on the clothesline and mother cleaning it."

Homemade pies, biscuits, dressing and many other goodies filled the supper table soon afterward.

"Then we’d get in a big circle around the table in that kitchen," Mrs. Jordan said. "That was our family right there."