Thanksgiving, then and now

By Blythe Alspaugh -



Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News


Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News


Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News


Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News


Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY — Jean Sampson has never been a fan of turkey, least of all on Thanksgiving.

“We raised the turkey. I couldn’t bear to eat that turkey that we had raised up to have for Thanksgiving,” Sampson said.

Sampson, 90, is originally from Fletcher and now lives in Sidney. Despite not enjoying turkey, she still found enjoyment in celebrating Thanksgiving growing up. Her family had a tradition of going to one grandparents’ house for dinner, and going to the other grandparents’ house for “supper.” Somehow, she and her siblings managed to eat two Thanksgiving dinners among their families. No Thanksgiving was complete without her mother’s pumpkin pie, made entirely from scratch.

“She would clean the pumpkin, cook the pumpkin, and make the pumpkin pie. They were delicious, and up to her death in her 90s, she could still make a delicious pumpkin pie,” Sampson said. “I wasn’t near the cook she was. She lived with me, and everyone would bring in side dishes, but grandma’s pumpkin pie had to be there.”

This year, Sampson will be celebrating Thanksgiving with her son, who will visit her at Ohio Living Dorothy Love in Sidney.

“I’m grateful for it,” Sampson said. “I have no desire to leave here. I’m completely happy, and that’s the reason my family is coming here.”

Other Ohio Living Dorothy Love residents shared their Thanksgiving memories.

Phyllis Morris, 84, of De Graff, remembers her family being so large that it was impossible to get everyone together for one Thanksgiving dinner; her mother was one of 13 children. They would host a meal at their home and invite the entire family; whoever could attend, would.

“It was fun. We did get to see some of the people we hadn’t seen. It was nice,” Morris said. “My mother-in-law made the best potato salad in the world. My kids asked her what she put in it, and she told them. I watched her make it someday and tried to make it, and they said, ‘it’s not like grandma’s.’”

Rogene Laut, 97, of Minster, recalls spending Thanksgiving at her grandmother’s house. Like Morris, Laut’s family was also large; her mother had five brothers and four sisters, so there would be a meal prepared at her grandmother’s, and she and her extended family stopped in for lunch and dinner throughout Thanksgiving day.

“Everybody took turns having Thanksgiving,” Laut said. “We would go with a couple families. It was kind of big, so not everyone would go at the same time.”

For Janet Motter-Knasel, the best part of Thanksgiving was having all her loved ones close, under one roof, and being able to appreciate each other’s company.

“We had all our family in for dinner. Mom would cook a big meal, roast a turkey, and we’d have aunts and uncles and cousins. The men would go rabbit hunting before dinner, and then we’d have our dinner, ” Motter-Knasel said. “Everybody would go home before suppertime.”

Motter-Knasel, 79, resides in Sidney and feels as though people aren’t as thankful for what they have as they used to be.

“It’s just not like it used to be; everybody is so busy. I feel bad for my kids and my grandkids. They’ll never know how nice it was or how thankful we should be, because I don’t think people are like that anymore. Nothing’s the way it’s used to be; I guess I’m too old-fashioned.”

For Carol Milligan, 89, of Sidney, Thanksgiving has stayed very much the same over the years. Her Thanksgivings, from the time she was young up until today, have included the person at the head of a big table giving the prayer for the meal, and in some years, they go around the table and each person says what they are thankful for. The only major change over the years is that her daughter-in-law handles most of the cooking on Thanksgiving; when she was younger, everyone contributed to the meal.

“As people marry, that brings in some different foods that you maybe haven’t had before, that’s their tradition,” Milligan said.

These days, Milligan celebrates Thanksgiving at her son’s house. Her son, who is a minister, does an original blessing for the meal.

“It’s very traditional, and I’m glad,” Milligan said.

Motter-Knasel Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News

Sampson Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News

Morris Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News

Laut Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News

Milligan Blythe Alspaugh | Sidney Daily News

By Blythe Alspaugh

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825