CELEBRATING TWO THANKSGIVING DAYS
The other day while talking to friends about holidays coming up, I mentioned, “Do you remember when we celebrated two Thanksgiving days? The third and fourth Thursdays of November?”
Most of us were in agreement that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in the United States in 1621, and on November 26, 1789 George Washington proclaimed this day as Thanksgiving Day, and on October 3, 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday.
When I told these people that FDR had changed Thanksgiving Day from the fourth Thursday of November to the third Thursday in November, they all said, “Where did you come up with that cock-and-bull story.” I remember not wanting to offend anyone, but the Howard home in Bryan, Ohio celebrated two Thanksgiving Days in 1940. Did I dream this?
Well, back to the history books and on page 351 of the Bicentennial Almanac edited by Calvin D. Linton it states: “May 20, 1941 President Roosevelt ends a two-year experiment of holding Thanksgiving Day one week before the traditional fourth Thursday in November. FDR did this in 1939 to stimulate business activity by separating it more widely from Christmas. He conceded that there had been no rise in holiday buying”.
Once in 1945 I missed Thanksgiving day altogether. The Army Transport that was taking me to the Phillipines crossed the International Date Line at the wrong time. We celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday.
The most interesting Thanksgiving Day was November 28, 1895. On that day the first automobile race was held in the United States. The duration of the race was 54 miles between Chicago and Evanston, Illinois. Only two cars finished the race: Frank Duryea’s car and a late-model Bentz of Germany. Duryea’s car was declared the winner covering the distance in 7 hours and 53 minutes. We now drive faster…that’s the way I saw it.