Celebrating a 1939 Thanksgiving Day in New Hampshire

thanksgivingIn 1939 I was not even a twinkle in my parent’s eyes.  Certainly they may have met by then, but they were not even dating. The world was full of uncertainty.  In 1939 Nazi Germany had attacked Poland (September 1st).  France, Australia and the United Kingdom had declared war on Germany. The United States remains neutral but begins rearming for war.

The average cost of a new house was $3,800.00. Average wages per year were $1,730.00. Gasoline cost 10 cents/gallon, a loaf of bread was 8 cents. The average price for a new car was $700.00.

Thanksgiving arrived on time in 1939, and the American menu, at least for those who cookingcould afford a large meal, looked slightly different than it does today.  Perhaps this Thanksgiving we should emulate the menu of 1939, and give thanks for a world that is a bit safer, but also possibly a bit more dangerous.  Every day is a gift.

The Portsmouth Herald, Portsmouth NH, 15 Nov 1939, page 7
Thanksgiving Dinner

Tomato-Avocado Cocktail with Mustard Dressing
Olives, Celetery, Radishes
Roast Turkey, Dressing
Fried Oysters

Giblet Gravy
Candied Sweet Potatoes, Turnip
Creamed Onions
Cranberry Ice
Refrigerator Pumpkin Pie
Hot Pumpkin Pie
Coffee, Nuts, Bon Bons

Chop chicory or watercress. Arrange on the bottom of a cocktail glass. Place tomatoes, which have been quartered, around the edge of the glass. Arrange slices of avocado in the center. Serve with a mustard sauce made by folding equal parts of prepared mustard into mayonnaise.

Sample of 1939 apparel from a Portsmouth NH newspaper

Sample of 1939 apparel from a Portsmouth NH newspaper

1 quart cranberries
2 cups water
1 tablespoon gelatine
2 cups cold water
2 cups sugar
Juice of two lemons
Cook the berries into a saucepan with water for 5 minutes, or until they stop popping. Put through a sieve or coarse strainer. Reheat sauce to boiling point and add gelatine which has been hydrated, that is, soak in water until dissolved. Add sugar and lemon juice. Cool. Place in refrigerator

1 tablespoon gelatine
1/4 cup cold water
1-1/4 cups pumpkin, cooked
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
To slightly beaten egg yolks add one-half cup sugar, pumpkin, milk, salt and spices. Cook until thick in double boiler. Pour cold water in bowl and sprinkle gelatine on top of water. Add to hot pumpkin mixture, mix thoroughly and cool. When it begins to thicken, add remaining sugar and fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into previously baked pie shell or ginger snap crust. Chill in refrigerator or cold place. Serve with a topping of whipped cream into which has been folded cottage cheese.

Ten-Minute Cranberry Sauce
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 pound (4 cups) cranberries
Boil sugar and water together for five minutes. Add cranberries and boil without stirring until all the skins pop open (five minutes is usually sufficient). Remove from fire and allow the sauce to remain in the vessel until cool. One pound of cranberries makes two and a half pound of sauce.
(For a thinner sauce)
Just bring sugar and water to a boil, then add cranberries and cook until they stop popping.
Put up Ten-Minute Cranberry sauce in sterilized jars. Simply pour the sauce hot into the jars and seal tightly. Keep in a dark, cool place for future use.

[Editor’s note: if any of my readers use these recipes, please leave a comment and what you thought of it.]

 ***Articles from Thanksgivings Past***

Old Thanksgiving Recipes from New Hampshire newspapers (2014)

“Thanksgiving in Olden Time,” an 1876 Sermon Published in the New Hampshire Sentinel (2013)

New Hampshire’s Thanksgiving Recipes from 1889 (2013)


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