[Sca-cooks] OT/OOP "Begging for Thanksgiving"

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Sat Oct 31 16:20:22 PDT 2009

Maybe regional.

It's mentioned here:
  "What we did have and what I looked forward to was goingfrom door to  
door on Thanksgiving morning, in costume,usually just old clothes with  
our faces blackened by burnt cork, and begging "Anything For  

A few pennies rather than an apple or candy were themore common  
gratuity, and occasionally we did pick up a dimeor nickel. But I could  
make a few dollars and still be all washed for the family part of  
Thanksgiving, stuffed turkey with everything else.

I think the custom of begging at Thanksgiving was already dying out in  
the late forties when I first started going the rounds, and I don't  
recall any such begging in the late 1950's, but since high school  
football wasn't much in Brooklyn, it did fill the morning in nicely  
for a few years. By the time I got too old for it, we were watching  
black and white NFL football, with, I think, Detroit traditionally  
losing to somebody for Thanksgiving."


and here in the NYT

Memories of Thanksgiving Begging

Published: Sunday, March 26, 1995

To the Editor:

My brother and I were Thanksgiving "ragamuffins" in what is now called  
the Midwood section of Brooklyn -- we called it simply Flatbush then  
-- beginning in the early 1930's and continuing until our personal  
vanity led us to retire. We were "too big" to appear in public in the  
guise of urchins.

We had it on excellent authority -- our parents' -- that Thanksgiving  
begging dated to well before World War I. They had, in fact,  
participated themselves in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

Halloween activity was confined to the "tricks" and Thanksgiving to  
the "treats" before the conflation when, instead of two autumn  
opportunities to taunt our neighbors, we were left with only one,  
Halloween, which soon was appropriated by the adult establishment for  
its own aims.

Based upon our first-hand information, we believe the custom of  
Thanksgiving begging started not later than the beginning of the  
century, at least in Brooklyn, where most good things began anyway.  


On Oct 31, 2009, at 4:49 PM, Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius  
> However...
> I'm wondering if I'm the only one here who remembers, either  
> personally or via anecdotes from older friends and relatives, the  
> concept of dressing as "tramps" and going "begging for  
> Thanksgiving". Both my parents spoke of this; Halloween was for  
> pranks (things like stockings full of chalk or baby powder or flour,  
> with which to harmlessly whack the unwary traveller), but  
> Thanksgiving was for dressing up and going door to door.
> I wonder if perhaps the practice died out in the Great Depression,  
> when many American households in some parts of the country  
> experienced far too much of this sort of thing from people who were  
> doing it in earnest to survive...
> Adamantius

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