November 23, 2016, El Centro- Upon stopping in this slowly revitalizing “capital” of the Colorado Desert, in southeast California, I made it my priority to enjoy breakfast for dinner, and have at a combo, of sausage links, scrambled eggs, hash browns and Chocolate Peppermint pancakes, at the local IHOP.
A flood of Thanksgiving memories ensued, which I now share. My first memories are of Grandmother Kusch saying that it was a fine thing I enjoyed Roast Turkey with stuffing, as it would be my birthday meal, on many a year. This was when I was about six, or so. Most of the school time memories of Thanksgiving time were of the maudlin: Paper Pilgrim hats, or, as I preferred, Wampanoag headdresses. I later learned that the Native Peoples of the Northeast were not so given to such attire, though the deerskin clothing that accompanied them, was genuine.
Sis and I liked to mix the various kinds of soda, which we called tonic, in Bostonese. Root beer mixed with orange Nehi was one of my favourites. I imagined the crispy bottom of the stuffing was “buffalo meat”, for some strange reason. Whatever, the whole meal was always marvelous, and I have been able to eat turkey, in various guises, for days on end, throughout my life.
I’ve had mostly fond memories of Thanksgiving, while wishing the good will would always be there. in 1985, it was, until someone realized it was also my birthday, and she was angry with me, for various things I had not done, in the months prior, and a tongue lashing ensued. Our subsequent Thanksgivings, and my birthdays since, went much more smoothly.
I can only recall one Thanksgiving when I was alone. It was 1981, and I ate at a table for one, at Swiss Village, in Payson. The service was spotty, and I came away from the meal, vowing to not be totally alone that day, ever again. I have since kept that promise.
Many Thanksgivings were observed, courtesy of the Robbins family, in Prescott, with two kinds of turkey: Oven-roasted and deep-fried. Both were exquisite. There was also a tofurkey. It was not exquisite. The Robbins’ were once known as the family Rabinowitz, but homogenization took that away. They remain one of the most noble families I’ve ever known.
For the past four years, Aram and I have gone to Julian Cafe, northeast of San Diego. Penny worked in Julian, for a year, in 1981-82, so the place has a wealth of fond memories- and some of the most delectable apple pie, anywhere.
We will head there again, tomorrow afternoon.