“Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.” – Wilbur D. Nesbit

Ladies and gentlemen, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and wouldn’t it be nice to see how the time of togetherness and gratitude was celebrated in Hillsboro and Highland County in the 1960s? I thought so, too.

On the front page of the local newspaper, a photo shows a little girl seated on a barrel with her arm extended, seemingly consoling a turkey. The photo’s headline reads, “Sooner or later, you gotta go,” with the caption, “‘Sorry, old buddy’ – That’s what four-year-old Jill Yochum seems to be saying to her gobbler friend, whose destiny is undoubtedly an ignominious upending on a platter on somebody’s table at Thanksgiving time. Pig-tailed Jill is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis E. Yochum of near Buford, whose original crop of 6,000 turkeys has been thinned down since the Thanksgiving market opened. Note the nosy character (another turkey) getting into the act at the lower right for a brief claim to immortality, though his future is just as determined as the top bird on the barrel.”

Does anyone actually buy live, local turkeys to serve up for a sumptuous Thanksgiving repast? I’d honestly like to know.

Speaking of repasts, the newspaper noted that the holiday meal at the county home will include turkey as the main dish, with the usual side dishes, and that Mrs. Harley Cowne, matron of the home, was in charge of the meal.

The paper also announced that “Thanksgiving will be much in evidence at the Highland County Jail on Thursday, when matron Mrs. Walter Reffitt will have turkey dressing, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and celery and pumpkin pie. Announcement of this menu may affect the jail roster, but she has to take that chance.”

I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.

Over at the hospital, “Patients at Highlands Community Hospital for the day will be offered a menu of roast turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, frozen peas, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Twigs of the hospital auxiliary will provide the usual favors for the meal trays.”

The annual community Thanksgiving services, sponsored by the Hillsboro Ministerial Association, will be held at the Baptist Church on Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. The sermon will be given by Elder Rita E.H. Lee, minister of the First Wesleyan Methodist Church and Rev. John Carson of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church will assist. It was pointed out that “This is an interdenominational gathering, open to everyone.”

In an advertisement, Lytle’s Restaurant in Leesburg said, “Sorry, we will not be open Thanksgiving Day – We wish you all a happy holiday.” However, another ad by Maroy Restaurant on South High Street in Hillsboro proclaimed, “For a most delicious Thanksgiving dinner, bring your family and friends to The Maroy Restaurant. Turkey, baked ham plus all the traditional goodies – open 5:30 a.m. ’til 8 p.m.” The Double D Restaurant in Allensburg is also open, offering “a most delicious Thanksgiving dinner” and to “bring your family and friends” for “turkey plus all the traditional goodies.” Thanksgiving dinner there is served from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Speaking of Allensburg, the Sunnyside Inn is holding a Thanksgiving Eve Dance where a turkey will be given away.

Now, if you don’t want to buy a live turkey from the Yochums or other local turkey farmers, eat at a restaurant or hope to be the lucky winner of the Sunnyside turkey, Kroger (over on Muntz Street) is selling turkeys 20 pounds and up for 27 cents a pound and ham for 49 cents a pound. Over at Albers (later Great Scot now Community Market), Swift Butterball turkeys (5- to 15-pound average) are 39 cents a pound and Butterball stuffed turkeys (6- to-12-pound average) are 49 cents a pound. Oh, and pumpkin pies are three for a dollar (while supplies last).

Now that you’re hungry, let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time. Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.