From the Fishburn Archives:
THANKSGIVING IN PARKVILLE, 1898
By Carolyn Elwess
Special to The Luminary
Thanksgiving always provided pleasant diversions for the early Park College Family and the observance of that day in 1898 was no exception. Times were hard at Park and that year the school’s finances were in a desperate condition. Even so, college officials were bound and determined to provide a joyful event for the student body, a large number of whom were unable to travel to home and hearth because they could not afford the expense. Here, from the November 27th, 1898 Park College Record, is the story:
“The Thanksgiving Day sermon was preached by the Rev. Cleland B. McAfee from the text ‘God is in the Heavens.’ His review of the events of this history - making year led us to realize that our God is the God of nations and ‘hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.’
[the Spanish-American War had recently ended and the victorious United States had acquired Spain’s colonies in Cuba, the Philippines and on the island of Guam, among other territories]
Dinner was late but it was worth waiting for. After dinner the young men helped wash the dishes – at least they put on long aprons and tried to keep out of the way. This is a time honored custom and affords much merriment. The afternoon was given up to social pleasure and skating. In the evening and entertainment was provided by the Calliopean Society of the college. We were and are still a happy, thankful Family. God and our friends are very good to us.
We not only had a Thanksgiving Dinner – we would have had that anyway – but we also had turkey for it. In the present state of the finances, it was a question whether that luxury should be indulged in. But it was decided to honor the Lord by trusting him to provide, through His stewards, for the customary treat to the faithful ones who have so few luxuries. And He accepted the honor, for before the turkeys were on the tables, enough to pay for them and $1.26 left over, was either on hand or on its way.
Thanksgiving vacation, extending from Wednesday Night to Saturday Night, interrupted very pleasantly the usual routine. A few students were able to go home but the very large majority were denied that privilege because of distance and expense. There were some somber faces but the prevailing spirit was one of good cheer and desire to help others have a good time.
Professor Howard Dean and two students skating on the Missouri River
In consequence of the almost unprecedented severity of the weather, this has been an unusual Thanksgiving, and in a very enjoyable way. The skating has been very fine, and that healthful and exhilarating recreation has been indulged in very largely during the three days to give us a holiday. It is estimated – no one undertook to the difficult job of counting them – that on Saturday two hundred of our young people were flitting about on the shallows of the river, at one time!”
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That’s what was happening at Park 113 years ago! Why don’t we all think about that story and give thanks both for the creature comforts we take for granted and for the family and friends with whom we will be sharing a turkey with all the trimmings.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone .. and I hope you have fun washing the dishes!!
November 19, 2008
Gently edited, November 22, 2011