Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thanksgiving Album

I hope this makes you smile.

Here's a few images of days gone by for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The original Macy's balloons were created by a wonderfully antic artist named Tony Sarg who was half surrealist-madman, half whimsical observer of life. I was lucky to have some of his rare books that had been my mother's as a kid, so these looked very familiar, even though many of his freakier, more cubistic creations might have fit right in with a monster movie from another era. Please click on the thumbnails below to see the full image :

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This cheerful fellow above is reportedly from the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1923.

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The 1930 parade, with the mother figure from the Katzenjammer kids comic strip leading the way makes me thing that people probably needed distractions desperately at the beginning of the Depression.

The next 10 photos are from a treasure trove of snapshots of the 1932 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade discovered in a trunk in Texas about 3 years ago. Someone must've had a great day back then.

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Look! Up in the sky! It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Turkey who looks like a dragonfly in the 1932 Macy's parade. Hey, do you think those Mothman prophecies might have stemmed from this sight? Check out Divorce in the Family (1932) with Lewis Stone & Jackie Cooper playing at the movies. Tom Turkey's underfed look might reflect the Depression era, eh? Or, he's sprung a leak. Hope that Mr. Turkey doesn't crash into the El.

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I think it's a Piggie on his way to market, circa 1932, but what a strange place to put the Macy's logo...

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It's Felix the Cat!! Does anyone spot Ignatz?

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It appears to be Noah's Ark, on a human scale. Wish that I could figure out if that is a skull creature or a panda on the left...Check out the billboard with the Coca-Cola Santa reaching for a bottle of the cool stuff...coke, that is.

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This clown with the fez(?) really looks like a Tony Sarg drawing.

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A Toy Soldier, I think? Is that guy with the big grimace and the pork pie hat leftover from Halloween?

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I can see the headline in the New York Graphic: Sleepy Alligator Looms Over Gotham!

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Santa's in there among the balloons. Do you think the cop is saying: "Move along, nothing to see here, move along, people"? Check out the little girl with the white hat and the look of wonder on the lower right.

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This Eddie Cantor balloon is from the 1940 parade.

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A frankfurter dog from 1941. Look, it's Lulu advertising some kleenex on the billboard...

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A fish from 1941.

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Now we're within living memory. It's Bullwinkle, circa 1965!!

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Underdog!! Bring him back, Macy's! And Dudley DoRight too.

Thanksgiving Verse and Felicitations

After a midnight last run to the grocery store, I've resolved to avoid any more encounters with commerce and my fellow consumers until after Thanksgiving Day. I'm aiming for a peaceful day, with a minimum of family angst, and a few moments to enjoy what is, in the end, a moment to pause, offer what we can to those in need, and be thankful for that world behind the front door and the people who fill that world with meaning.

In that spirit, I thought William Matthews paean to that neglected yet key element of a Thanksgiving meal, the lowly onion might not be amiss--whether you serve it creamed, glazed or
sautéed. Thank God for this small yet savory thing on our table and our palate.The second poem from L. Maria Child might be very familiar, and if you can read it without thinking of a familiar childish tune, you may never had the mixed privilege of a very long ride to a grandparents' house at the holidays, counting out of state license plates, playing punch-buggy yellow, fighting with a sibling for a window spot or wondering if we were there yet. My heart goes out to you. Enjoy the poems and, I hope, you'll enjoy the day, however grand or simple, as the last verse by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett will explain. That is a gift that nourishes our souls and bodies. I hope you know it.

Onions by William Matthews
How easily happiness begins by
dicing onions. A lump of sweet butter
slithers and swirls across the floor
of the sauté pan, especially if its
errant path crosses a tiny slick
of olive oil. Then a tumble of onions.

This could mean soup or risotto
or chutney (from the Sanskrit
chatni, to lick). Slowly the onions
go limp and then nacreous
and then what cookbooks call clear,
though if they were eyes you could see

clearly the cataracts in them.
It’s true it can make you weep
to peel them, to unfurl and to tease
from the taut ball first the brittle,
caramel-colored and decrepit
papery outside layer, the least

recent the reticent onion
wrapped around its growing body,
for there’s nothing to an onion
but skin, and it’s true you can go on
weeping as you go on in, through
the moist middle skins, the sweetest

and thickest, and you can go on
in to the core, to the bud-like,
acrid, fibrous skins densely
clustered there, stalky and in-
complete, and these are the most
pungent, like the nuggets of nightmare

and rage and murmury animal
comfort that infant humans secrete.
This is the best domestic perfume.
You sit down to eat with a rumor
of onions still on your twice-washed
hands and lift to your mouth a hint

of a story about loam and usual
endurance. It’s there when you clean up
and rinse the wine glasses and make
a joke, and you leave the minutest
whiff of it on the light switch,
later, when you climb the stairs.

Thanksgiving Day by L. Maria Child

Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood--
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
To have first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barn-yard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow--
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood--
Now grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!
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Click on the thumbnail for a uniquely self-destructive birds-eye view of the day.

Simple Gifts by
Elder Joseph Brackett

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.


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