Thanksgiving menu help, from history and NYPL

November 21, 2018

Happy to see this au courant plug for the digital collections at the New York Public Library. History teachers, culinary teachers, take note!

Want to see what New York’s hotels and restaurants served for Thanksgiving in the past? A few dozen menus offer interesting insights, as NYPL plugged on their Twitter feed.

 

 

 

The image featured in the Tweet is the cover of an 1899 menu from Sturtevant House, “a popular hotel on Broadway and 29th Street that opened in 1871.” The hotel closed circa 1903. But in 1899, you could get a fantastic meal for $0.75 on Thanksgiving day, featuring clams and oysters still abundant in New York waters, a traditional turkey dinner, and fare we regard as more exotic today, such as a turtle soup, “Terrapin à l’ Américaine.” Some of the menu would be difficult to replicate today, simply because local sources have been developed or polluted out of existence.

Thanksgiving menu for the dining room in the Sturtevant Hotel in New York City, in 1899. Clams, oysters, fish and turtles, may not be available for menus today. (What's a "Philadelphia Turkey?") NYPL Digital Collections

Thanksgiving menu for the dining room in the Sturtevant Hotel in New York City, in 1899. Clams, oysters, fish and turtles, may not be available for menus today. (What’s a “Philadelphia Turkey?”) NYPL Digital Collections

One CPI calculator notes that $0.75 in 1899 would cost us $22.75 today. Looking at the menu, I think that’s a great bargain. I’ll wager you can’t match that menu in New York City today for less than $80 a plate. Sometimes the cost of living calculations fall way short of reality.

A postcard features the Sturtevant House in the 1890s, at Broadway and 29th Street. The hotel closed in 1903, the building no longer remains. Pinterest image.

A postcard features the Sturtevant House in the 1890s, at Broadway and 29th Street. The hotel closed in 1903, the building no longer remains. Pinterest image.

Lots of historical comment in 2018 about how Thanksgiving is a created tradition, with roots that go back only a few centuries at most. It’s a tradition created without real roots in religion or ancient cultures, almost unique to post-Columbus Americas.

So the collection of menus offers the birth of tradition. Should humans survive for another thousand years on this planet, historians will be able to see the steps by which this tradition was created.

The menu from Eaton’s (restaurant?) in 1937 looks just like what our school history books in the 1950s and 1960s called the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal, turkey, stuffing, cranberry dish of some sort, potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Some traditions are delicious enough to stick around.

Who created that menu?

Thanksgiving menu from New York restaurant Eaton's, 1937. This looks like the "traditional" Thanksgiving menu. Who created it? NYPL Digital Collections

Thanksgiving menu from New York restaurant Eaton’s, 1937. This looks like the “traditional” Thanksgiving menu. Who created it? NYPL Digital Collections

$1.00 for a complete turkey dinner? That was 1937, and the U.S. was still in the Great Depression. The inflation calculator at Saving.org says that same meal would cost you $17.61 in 2018 — about the cost of a buffet at a Golden Corral in Texas. Not cheap, but not very expensive, either.

In 2018 there is an Eaton Place Hotel at 220 Central Park South, a swanky neighborhood. Was that where the restaurant was?

Teachers, how can you use these historic menu images in your classroom discussions, to help students understand and maybe appreciate history?

 


Does North Carolina celebrate North Carolina statehood in 2018?

November 21, 2018

U.S. flag flew in at least one spot in North Carolina on statehood day, November 21, 2017. Photo at Chimney Rock State Park, outside of Asheville, North Carolina, near U.S. Highway 64/74A, on the Rocky Broad River.

U.S. flag flies in one spot in North Carolina on statehood day, we can be quite sure. Photo at Chimney Rock State Park, outside of Asheville, North Carolina, near U.S. Highway 64/74A, on the Rocky Broad River. History.com image.

Staff at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub do not always stay ahead of flag flying days. November 21 is North Carolina’s statehood day, and MFB is almost as slow at remembering that in 2018 as in 2017. (It would be good to have all 50 states’ statehood days commemorated here; but we’re human and more slothful and forgetful than many.)

We wonder: Does anyone in North Carolina celebrate North Carolina’s statehood?

Newspapers, television and radio, and other media do not note much celebration, planned or otherwise. Do North Carolinians fly their U.S. flags on November 21, for statehood day?

North Carolina became the 12th state, ratifying the Constitution on November 21, 1789.

If you’re in North Carolina, do you fly your flag on Statehood Day?

U.S. 25-cent piece commemorating North Carolina, in the series honoring all 50 states. The design follows John T. Daniels's iconic photo of the first well-documented heavier-than-air flying machine flight, by the Wright Brothers, at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

U.S. 25-cent piece commemorating North Carolina, in the series honoring all 50 states. The design follows John T. Daniels’s iconic photo of the first well-documented heavier-than-air flying machine flight, by the Wright Brothers, at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

Notes from Twitter, for the day in 2017 (Twitter’s a first refuge of celebration procrastinators):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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