Dakota Datebook

Thanksgiving Plate

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


We stand on the precipice of the holiday season, with Thanksgiving approaching rapidly – a time we often reflect on what the past has brought to us. Such was the case in 1954 for Mrs. Robert Welch of Menoken, who shared her own special memories with the students of Saint Mary’s High School.


Mrs. Welch was a descendent of Dutch settler-adventurers who came from the Mayflower. As a result, she had an heirloom plate with a longer history than the state itself. Once white, rimmed with gold and decorated with violets, the dessert plate had become rough-surfaced and gray. It had broken once, and Mrs. Welch had patched it up. The plate stood as a testament of survival.


If we start counting from that first day of thanks in 1621, celebrated by the pilgrims, then that plate would have seen 333 celebrations by the time in 1954 when Mrs. Welch shared the story with North Dakota students.


Today, many consider Thanksgiving celebrations to be quick and quiet, a gateway to the commercialized Black Friday and Christmas season. It is more about food – of turkey, pumpkin pie, stuffing and, coincidentally, stuffing ourselves.


And so, in the spirit of food and memories, one other Thanksgiving story from 1954 involved Marc Christianson, a “poultry tycoon” who received a black eye from the fruits of his labor. The Bismarck Tribune reported:


“Marc maintains that he…was kicked in the eye by a 26-pound FROZEN turkey. As he straight-facedly explains it, he had his deep freezer loaded to the lid with frozen poultry, and when he opened the door the frozen turkey popped out and smacked him in the peeper.”


Still something to be thankful for … food on the table, family gatherings, friends, health. Yes, even the driving force of commerce.


Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



The Bismarck Tribune, Nov. 22, 1954

The Bismarck Tribune, Nov. 24, 1954



This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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