Turkey Pinecones and cornbread dressing
Last week I ate twice at school cafeterias.
It was Thanksgiving lunch and we grandparents were invited.
I don’t miss a grandchild event if I can help it.
One day was with our adopted (truly) African-American granddaughter, Daizy Mae Thomas.
The next day was with Luke Iles, aka Chief Wampum.
Both meals featured turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, and warm chocolate milk.
I was transported back to second grade at East Beauregard High School.
The year was 1963.
I was seven.
Our teacher, Mrs. Goldie Cain, had our small class making pinecone turkeys to take home as Thanksgiving presents.
Two hours earlier, we’d enjoyed our yearly school Thanksgiving lunch.
Turkey, cornbread dressing, green beans, and that proverbial warm chocolate milk.
Now we were busily cutting and pasting our turkeys.
The intercom beeped on, followed by the voice of our principal, T.J. Carroll.
“Students and faculty, I wish to announce that President John F. Kennedy has been shot and killed today in Dallas, Texas.”
We students looked to Mrs. Cain for assurance.
She stood stock still. No words.
I sensed the sadness in Mr. Carroll’s voice.
I sensed the same sadness in our teacher’s eyes.
I held on tightly to my Thanksgiving pine cone turkey.
At the moment, it was the only thing that seemed real in my life.
I didn’t understand everything that day, but I knew the world had turned on its axis in a way that would define the future.
I hadn’t thought about that day in a long time. It’s now been over fifty years since that day at Dealy Plaza in Dallas.
Last week it all came back to me.
It must’ve been the cornbread dressing.
Or maybe the laughter of students in the elementary cafeteria.
We were all together that day. Freda, Paul, Kenneth Neal, Kathy W. and Catherine G., Colleen, Willa Dean, Eddy.
It was Friday, November 22, 1963.
In a few hours, we started our Thanksgiving vacation.
But the world was never the same.
It was truly a Black Friday.