The Thanksgiving to never forget was in 1951. We'd just moved to a two bedroom house in
, all nine of us. My brother Gary was twelve years old, and baby Tom was two. Dad's "good deal" rented farmhouse was eleven hundred square feet with no running water, no bathroom, no electricity. He wanted to farm and there were fifty acres attached. Oklahoma
Mom told us the relatives were coming to visit, so we had chores to do.
My brother Jerry asked, "Where will we sleep?"
Mom answered, "Anywhere you fit."
Jerry's eyes got big and round.
Thirty five relatives showed up for the Thanksgiving holidays. They brought blankets, pies, biscuits, fruit, casseroles, vegetables, dishes, silverware, banjos, guitars and violins. Dad's thirteen siblings started singing the minute they arrived and didn't stop for four days.
A steady stream of boy cousins cranked buckets of water from the outside well for cooking and babies. Uncles chopped wood, stoking cook and heat fires as needed. They butchered a hog out back and killed chickens for forty three people. Thirteen kids gathered eggs, milked Daisy, then manned the churn endlessly for butter and cream. And the women cooked more food than I'd ever seen...huge pans of biscuits came out of that little wood stove, followed by cobblers and yeast bread.
We slept in cars that had gearshifts on the floor while the little kids and adults were spread wall to wall inside the house with music that never ended.
We were rich.