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The month of November is here again, folks! For most Americans, this means that the well-beloved Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner. While most people spend Thanksgiving with their families, many of the young men of the Abbott School for Boys spent their holiday together here in Farmington. It is worth noting, however, that boys who earned their A in football or were among the highest in academic rank were allowed to go home for Thanksgiving. While it may seem undesirable to stay at Abbott for Thanksgiving, Headmaster George Dudley Church and the other staff members of the school put on quite the day. Let’s travel back to 1914 and experience Thanksgiving through the eyes of an Abbott boy.
The date is Thursday, November 26, 1914. You awaken to the raucous sound of boys’ laughter and feet running about. You look out your window in the Abbott Dormitory. A dusting of white snow covers the lawn and the bare tree limbs of Little Blue Mountain. It is Thanksgiving! You grab your costume and leave your room, joining the crowd of young men hastily putting their costumes on in the hallway.
As you and the rest of the stampede makes its way down to the dormitory dining room, the aroma of chicken pie, donuts, and coffee fills the air. In the dining room, Headmaster Church, dressed as a professor of yesteryear, and the rest of the school staff (also in costume) greet you and the rest of the boys. As everyone is seated for breakfast, you look around and take in all the interesting costumes for the first annual Thanksgiving Costume Contest. There are, “young ladies galore, of assorted sizes and ages, negroes, clowns, foreigners of mixed varieties, and even a tiny policeman to preserve order.” During breakfast, Headmaster Church announces that Dick Ely, who is dressed as a “stunning girl of the type known as blonde”, is the winner of the contest.
At around 1:30, after some vigorous exercise, you and several other Abbott boys gather around the piano and sing “America, My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. After the singing of this national anthem, everyone files into the dining room again for dinner. Mrs. Church has really outdone herself this year. Clusters of blue crepe paper and white A’s (the school colors), banded with green sprigs of evergreen and holly, adorn the ceiling lights. The walls are decorated with paper turkeys, and the tables with blue and white streamers. The tables are arranged in their usual T form, with a great bowl of fruit located at the intersection of the tables. At every plate sits a dinner menu. On the menu today is the following: Oysters on Shell, Gherkins, Water Wafers, Soup, Celery, Pop Corn, Radishes, Venison Cutlets, Saratoga Chips, Crab Apple Jelly, Tomato Sauce, Young Turkey, Stuffed, Boiled Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Irish Potatoes, Bermuda Onions, Hubbard Squash, Cranberry Frappe, Roast Duck, Apple Sauce, Apple Juice, Salad, Saltines, and Olives. While you indulge in the Thanksgiving feast, music quietly plays from the Victrola.
Around 4:00, you and the rest of the Abbott boys run out onto the lawn and engage in a good old fashioned snowball fight for around twenty minutes. After a brutal tournament of flying snowballs, you return to the dining room for dessert. Dessert consists of the following: Mincemeat Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Frozen Pudding, Fruit, Coffee, Cheese, Crackers, Nuts, and Raisins. During this time, Headmaster Church calls on every boy to give an impromptu speech and/or joke. After many good laughs, Church gives a serious talk to everyone on the importance of having a trademark of your character, and to keep it unsullied. At this, Thanksgiving has ended, and you retire early for the evening, happy and full (Story sourced from the 1914 Abbott Observer: Christmas Number).
Layne Nason is a Farmington historian, specializing in the history of the Abbott School for Boys and Farmington during the era of the Great War.

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