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80 Years Ago

This column reprises two of your editor’s favorite subjects: Thanksgiving and quarantine. In the mid-1950s two aspects of school life disappeared: the annual all school Thanksgiving celebration (Until 1954 the schools held Friday classes the day after Thanksgiving, and the on campus festivities were a high point of the fall, attracting scores of alumni who would return for dinner.) and the near-annual campus quarantines due to infectious childhood diseases. Eighty years ago, these two events converged. 

from The Hermonite, vol. L, no. 6; p. 1 (December 1936).

Thanksgiving Day Celebrated in Traditional
Style Regardless of Scarlet Fever
Absences Cause Program Changes
Mr. Jackson Substitutes for Dr. Porter

Embattled Hermonites not allowing the “bug” to get them down in any sense of the word observed a traditional Hermon Thanksgiving except for the truism that there was not the usual big reunion. Not to be ignored is the fact that alumni and friends, including “so near and yet so far” Dr. and Mrs. Porter, were conspicuous in their absence.

Naturally not in an over-joyful mood for thanksgivings in the absence of so many old friends, students eagerly applauded Dr. Porter’s message suggesting a “Home-coming Week-end” later in the winter.

Due to the continued quarantine, Charles W. Merriam of Deerfield who was scheduled to address us at the half-hour morning service could not be present. In his stead, our Rev. Lester P. White read Psalm 145.

In a West Hall festively decorated with shocks of corn and chandeliers shaded with paper of a gay autumnal shade, dinner, the really big affair of the day, commenced at one o’clock. Featuring Demy’s celebrated roast turkey, Mrs. Cooper’s excellent menu included a fruit cup, sage dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, watermelon pickles, mashed potatoes, rolls, buttered onions, celery and tomato sauce, mince pie a la mode, salted peanuts, mints and coffee.

During the meal, there was the usual table-to-table yelling; meanwhile the Seniors went joyfully about the extremely pleasant task of breaking all records by eating more turkey this year than ever before. The Seniors tried to excel in the new musical sphere too, by singing a new “Turkey Song” in two parts set to the music of “Tormented” and “Old Gray Bonnet.”

After dinner Mr. Jackson acting as toastmaster in place of Dr. Porter, read a “cablegram” from the isolated headmaster to which a response was unanimously voted by those present. Also decided upon were messages to the still feverish Hermonites at Greenfield and elsewhere.

In the intervals between his introduction of the afternoon’s distinguished orators, Mr. Jackson read greetings sent by various Hermon clubs in colleges…

Irrepressible Johnny Fisher, one of the few alumni present, was greeted with a great ovation when entering the hall late. A little later, on being called on to present the well wishes of the Class of 1936 and other alumni, he was the recipient of one of the most spontaneous outbursts of applause of the day. From this and other demonstrations it was easy to see that thoughts of the alumni were present in all fortunate enough to be present, although everyone was happy to be able to be at West Hall entering in the traditional ceremonies of the day.