“What comfort is there in picking up an old paper some 20 or 30 years of age, and reading that eggs were selling at 15 cents a dozen and turkeys at a dollar a head? It don’t do you any good except to remind you of those good old times,” stated an item on the editorial page of the Lancaster Daily Eagle Nov. 19, 1921. This item challenged this writer to compare the “good old” Thanksgiving 1921 to 2021… and spoiler alert--much is still the same.
Family members and/or friends joined together (and hopefully shared with those who were alone). Most began to make travel plans by early November. Believe it or not, the Nov. 22, 1921 Daily Eagle reported: “More families will make their Thanksgiving calls in automobiles this year than ever before…Present registration figures show that every third family in the U.S. owns an automobile today. Far over a million new owners were added to the list of 1921…Now that the children have cars it’s easy for all to gather in at the old home Thanksgiving Day and the day is a bigger and happier one than it was before the automobile joined the family.” The larger number of automobiles in use increased from 7,558,848 in 1920 to 9.2 million at the beginning of 1921.
As far as the Thanksgiving men, it appears the popularity of turkey and the problem of supply meeting demand have not declined. Oct. 26, 1921 the Daily Eagle reported: “Indications point to a falling off in the shipment of turkeys this year to a point below that of last year or even normal, according to reports received at the Ohio Bureau of Markets. The news is sad, but probably true.”
A turkey could be purchased in 1921 for 60 cents per pound at A. M. Justus’s Pool Room, or for 50 cents per pound at Bauman Brothers Meat Market or from H. C. Heister who owned a poultry business on S. Broad St. and would deliver your bird. Those who did not wish to cook could enjoy their turkey dinner at The Mithoff or the Park Restaurant for 75 cents a plate. The Presbyterian Church ladies also held an early annual “Thanksgiving Supper” on Nov. 17th for $1 a person. It was reported over 600 folks attended.
The “big” football game of 1921 between the L.H.S. team and the alumni team was the “swan song” of the local season. It was scheduled for Thanksgiving morning but had to be postponed due to inclement weather until Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Eagle Park. The Nov. 28th Daily Eagle described the game as 30 odd gridiron warriors covered in mud, who closed the season with a seven to seven tie.
Just as some readers may have joined the annual hike up Mt. Pleasant on Thanksgiving morning 2021, young women were invited to meet at the YWCA at 2:30 in the afternoon in 1921 for a hike out Lincoln Ave.
A capacity crowd watched a basketball game in person (rather than on TV) on Thanksgiving evening 1921 at The Armory. It “officially” opened the basketball season. The game between the Petty Shoes team and the Athens Collegians was won by Petty Shoes 23 to 21. The game was followed by a dance in The Armory featuring music by Webster’s Orchestra.
There was an Armistice Day parade held on Nov. 11, 1921, but no Christmas parade. Many church services were held to celebrate the season. There were no ads for Black Friday in 192, but on the first Monday following Thanksgiving, Christmas ads aplenty began to appear in the newspaper.
As 1921 came to a close, this reflection on the previous 50 years was published in the Daily Eagle on Nov. 22: “Fifty years ago electricity was an unknown quantity for practical usage. The telephone had not been born. Transportation by means of the electric city street car or interurban car was undreamed of and natural gas was something to be afraid of. We think we are now perfect, but we are not. What wonders will the next fifty years develop?”
As 2021 comes to a close, dare we wonder how Thanksgiving and Christmas will be celebrated during the next 100 years? Which traditions will survive until 2121?
Readers may contact Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Joyce Harvey Remember When Lancaster Thanksgiving tradition in 1921