Varied and Plentiful – Thanksgiving Davidson Style
(This column originally appeared in Around the D (libraries.davidson.edu/aroundthed/), the Davidson College Archives and Special Collections blog in 2011. With thanks to the Archives and Special Collections staff for granting permission for a reprint, here is a look at Thanksgiving in Davidson a few decades ago.)
For Davidson students, Thanksgiving 1922 was a special event. The faculty approved a request from the Senior Class “that a holiday be granted on the 2nd of December for the purpose of holding Senior Week.” The faculty then amended their decision to include Thanksgiving Day, which was on November 30.
The college traditionally had only Thanksgiving Day as a holiday. The long weekend we are all used to now, did not appear on the college calendar until the 1952-53 academic year.
Still, in 1922, most students stayed in town and enjoyed turkey and dressing in their boarding houses. In an article titled “Boarding House Menu Varied and Plentiful,” the Davidsonian described the day.
“With the passing of Thanksgiving and Senior Week at Davidson, 31 turkeys passed through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and into the multitude of voids beyond. Each boarding house spread before its patrons a feed worthy in all respects of the name Thanksgiving Dinner and brought to the minds of those who remained on the hill memories of a similar day at home.
The menus were so elaborate and so long that they could not be published, but in each case the tables were adorned with huge turkeys with dressing and cranberry sauce. Gardens of celery and great tanks of salads were consumed in short order, while the cakes, if broken and placed crumb by crumb, would have made a solid line from Davidson to Charlotte.
Worthy of special mention was the dinner given by the Misses Shumaker to the 150 or more boarders who board at the Trough. This boarding house claims the distinction of having as guests on the momentous evening three members of the faculty – Doctor Martin, Mr. Jackson and Professor Wagner.
Gamble acted as toastmaster and presented the three gentlemen in order. Doctor Martin in his discourse on the course of food after being eaten, by means of obscure chemical terms, conclusively showed that Thanksgiving Turkey is the cause of pleasure, discomfort, and especially action. Mr. Jackson’s joke was followed by two splendid pastoral anecdotes by Professor Wagner who closed the after-dinner speeches.”
Jan Blodgett moved to Davidson in 1994. In 2017, she retired after 23 years as the Davidson College Archivist. Jan and former Davidson College history professor, Ralph Levering, are the co-authors of "One Town, Many Voices: A history of Davidson, North Carolina."