I think that Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I remember as a young boy that lived on the farm in Iowa how we would go to my grandparent’s home (also on a farm) on Thanksgiving for dinner. The weather in Iowa then was usually pretty cool so we’d dress in a warm coat, hop in the car, and my dad would drive us the 15 miles or so to my maternal grandparents (my paternal grandparents were both gone by the time I was born).
We’d get out of the car and grandpa’s big black dog, Midnight, would come to greet us and we’d walk up the sidewalk to their farmhouse (that always seemed so big and scary to me!) and enter through the back porch. The porch, though enclosed, was still pretty cold, but once you walked through the door into the kitchen – oh, my! – the warmth of the house and the smell of the turkey being roasted made the world a wonderful place! I shall never forget those sensations and smells as long as I live. They made an impression on me that made me love this holiday from my earliest years!
Not being a woman, I don’t do a lot of the cooking (and you really wouldn’t want me to because the little bit of cooking I do never seems to turn out that well!) but I do my share of eating. So I have a deep appreciation for those who prepare meals for others – and I hope we’ll give thanks for those people this week!
When we were in Charleston, we went aboard the aircraft carrier (retired) USS Yorktown. As we wandered through the canyons and crevices of the great ship, we came to the mess hall. Stuck up on the wall was a recipe for how to make 10000 chocolate chip cookies (when you have several thousand people on board, you have to make a lot of cookies for everyone to get even two each!)
Knowing that you might be making cookies this week and feeding a mass of people at your home, I thought you might appreciate having this recipe. Oh, and if you’re not planning to feed 10,000, you can reduce it by a factor of 10 and send me any left-over cookies you have. But please, if you’re making chocolate chips cookies for me, know that I love having walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies! Yum!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1923, the U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,074 to 46-year-old inventor and newspaperman Garrett Morgan for his three-position traffic signal. Though Morgan’s was not the first traffic signal (that one had been installed in London in 1868), it was an important innovation nonetheless: By having a third position besides just “Stop” and “Go,” it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier signals had.
Morgan, the child of two former slaves, was born in Kentucky in 1877. When he was just 14 years old, he moved north to Ohio to look for a job. First he worked as a handyman in Cincinnati; next he moved to Cleveland, where he worked as a sewing-machine repairman. In 1907, he opened his own repair shop, and in 1909 he added a garment shop to his operation. The business was an enormous success, and by 1920 Morgan had made enough money to start a newspaper, the Cleveland Call, which became one of the most important black newspapers in the nation.
Morgan was prosperous enough to have a car at a time when the streets were crowded with all manner of vehicles: Bicycles, horse-drawn delivery wagons, streetcars and pedestrians all shared downtown Cleveland’s narrow streets and clogged its intersections. There were manually operated traffic signals where major streets crossed one another, but they were not all that effective: Because they switched back and forth between Stop and Go with no interval in between, drivers had no time to react when the command changed. This led to many collisions between vehicles that both had the right of way when they entered the intersection. As the story goes, when Morgan witnessed an especially spectacular accident at an ostensibly regulated corner, he had an idea: If he designed an automated signal with an interim “warning” position—the ancestor of today’s yellow light—drivers would have time to clear the intersection before crossing traffic entered it.
The signal Morgan patented was a T-shaped pole with three settings. At night, when traffic was light, it could be set at half-mast (like a blinking yellow light today), warning drivers to proceed carefully through the intersection. He sold the rights to his invention to General Electric for $40,000.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Aristotle’s famous division between Greek and Barbarian was not based on race, but on those who organized themselves into community city-states and those who did not. The ancient Romans categorized people not on biological race or skin color, but on differing legal structures upon which they organized their lives.