The "real" story of that first Thanksgiving

Now it can be told
"This is the time of year the rich people come to The Cape." Cartoon by Bill Canty.

The True Turkey's Tail

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of our features are so bad that we can't help but inflict them a second (and maybe a third) time upon our readers with an indifference born of bad toilet training in our youth.

Is this epic tale about that infamous 1621 feast in Plymouth one of these?

You must be the judge, dear reader, and we invite you to comment upon this unmitigated prosy at the bottom of this page.

Although you may come to doubt the veracity of this tale, you may rest assured the information about my wife's family actually approaches honesty.

Her ancestor WAS Captain Edward Bangs, one of the first group of eight off-Cape Codders who came here in the mid 17th century. If you doubt this, visit his grave behind the Unitarian Church in Brewster.

Personally, I'll be thankful today when I can get back to being ungrateful, disillusioned, and cynical as a good reporter should be.

Now it can be told

By Walter Brooks, Scribe Errant & Writer in Whimsy

Most of you Cape Codders think you know the true story of Thanksgiving ... but you don't. You only know the sanitized, Plymouth version forced upon a gullible public by the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce in a failed attempt to enhance tourism at a time of year when no sensible tourist would venture north of the Mason-Dixon Line or Charleston, whichever comes first.

"This is the time of year the rich people come to The Cape."I alone know the true tale because my wife's ancestor, Capt. Edward Bangs who came over on the "Anne" which arrived a year after the "Mayflower", was around for that first thanksgiving in the Fall of 1621 to tell the true turkey tale.

Capt. Bangs told his grand children this tale, and they have passed it down through the centuries.

He said that after surviving their first year on these unkind shores, the Pilgrims, or "Saints" as they were then called, planned to serve roast beef or roast lamb for the "Harvest Home Dinner" as they actually called that first feast.

Beefeaters get the bird

After all, these hardy folks were originally from England where the Queen's guards or Yeomen Warders are called "Beefeaters." My wife's ancestor told the family that of course they all ate cow whenever they had a feast, and if they didn't have a cow, they ate a lamb despite little sister's tears for her pet.

The true story of that first holiday is quite simple, and more touching than the fairy tale they teach you in school

The true story of that first holiday is quite simple, and more touching than the fairy tale they teach in school.

It all started with that famous Boston author Euell "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" Gibbon's original Plymouth ancestor Ebenezer Gibbon who owned a small meat market and Dunkin' Donut franchise in Manomet almost 400 years ago.

After that first horrible winter of 1620-21, the Pilgrims who survived harvested the crops they had planted that summer and made ready to slaughter a cow or at least a few sheep for the festival. But not all of the Pilgrims were successful farmers that first year, and a few had to buy their main course from Euell's great-great-great-great (3-more "greats") grandfather Ebenezer Gibbons who owned that local butcher shop.

Telling the True Turkey Tale

Late on the last Wednesday of November in 1621 one of the less fortunate Pilgrims came to Gibbon's shop to buy a slab of beef or a shank of lamb for his table. When he asked for either beast, Ebenezer Gibbons sadly told him that he had just sold the last hunk of prime rib to Capt. Miles Standish and the last lamb shank to Governor William Bradford. He said he had nothing left to sell him for his holiday feast.

The distressed customer begged Gibbons to check the larder again and see what possible entree might remain for next day's big dinner.

Gibbons came back with a scraggly wild fowl which a local Native American had recently caught in the woods.

Gibbons opined that the beast resembled a guinea hen known to roam in Turkey, and offered it to the customer as a substitute, naming the fowl "turkey" after that Mid East country.

He even refused to charge for such a mangy, fowl-tasting repast.

The grateful customer grabbed the bird, and as he left the shop called back to Euell, "Thanks Gibbon!"

Of course, over the next four centuries his shouted "Thanks Gibbon" got slurred into what we call that holiday today,

Thanks Giving.

By Walter "would you like to buy the Sagamore Bridge" Brooks


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