A 19th Century Poem

Old-Time Thanksgiving Dinner At Nantucket

Give ear and I'll tell you a story
Of a dinner held long years ago
I'll tell it as Father's grandfather
Told him, and he surely should know.

Widow B lived alone in the outskirts
And seemed quite content with her lot.
Her garden was envied by many,
Better green goods could seldom be bought.

Each year she stored in her cellar
Apples, spuds, turnips, squashes, galore
While her shelves were weighed down with pickles
And jellies, enough for a store.

Before one Thanksgiving a neighbor
Whom some people called Deacon Slim
Knocked at the widow's back door;
Surprised, she invited him in.

"I've called, marm, with a proposition
That seems to me just can't be beat,
Folks tell me that you cook old roosters
So they're good as young chicken to eat.

"I just chopped some wood for a fellow
Who gave me a rooster for pay
A might fine idea came to me;
That's why I am here today.

"You've all kinds of vegetables, widder,
I hear you make grand mince pies, too;
And cranberry jell and plum pudding--
Folks say you're a fine cook, they do.

Now s'posin' I chip in the rooster--
I won't charge you one single cent--
Then you ask me over for dinner
And we'll have one festive event."

"Wal, now, that sounds fair, I reckon,"
The widow replied with a smile;
"You bring the bird over real early
And I'll soon have him ready to bile."

By two o'clock dinner was ready.
He drew up his chair with a jerk,
Then ventured--"There now, don't you bother,
I'll serve it, you've done enough work."

That bird was one camouflaged creature,
Skin and bones in abudance were there;
The guest took the breast meat and runners
And the meatless wings fell to her share.

Then he piled on his plate all the fixings
'Til he just couldn't find room for more;
And he ate 'til you'd think he'd not eaten
A meal for a fortnight or more.

Now Widow B planned her cooking
To have some for Sunday to come;
But when his next plateful was eaten
And he reached for a third, she said some:

"You ate about all of the rooster,
And four-fifths of the rest of the food,
 But I'll keep this little for Sunday
So your wanting it won't do you no good."

"Wal, that was a wonderful dinner,
But I've one more offer to make;
I'll take home the pies and pudding
And the bones for some soup you may take."

"Not much!  Here's the frame of the creature."
Her aim was surprisingly good.
And from that day he's made no proposal
His carcass to stuff with her food.

-Lilian Clisby Bridgham

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