NOVEMBER 22, 2002
ORIGINS OF THE THANKSGIVING POODLESHOOT
THANKSGIVING IN CALIFORNIA: THAT REDOUBTABLE PAIR
West of the Mississippi, nobody ever heard of the Pilgrims, and if they
did people would rightly consider the bunch to have been a pack of tight-ass
ingrates who cheerfully murdered those who had offered life-saving substance
only a few years previously, and who had gotten kicked out of Europe in
the first place because of their intolerant and pinched view of life.
few turkeys are to be found up in those hills
The first "official" thanksgiving took place on November 30,
1850 at the decree of then governor Burnett, and it is assumed by many
that the celebration occured largely because of the enormous contingent
of New Englanders who had swarmed over the Sierra as part of the '49 Gold
Rush. It seems the platillo enjoyed in the mining camps consisted
largely of jackrabbit, as few turkeys were to be found up in those hills
in those days. Truthfully, deer having been hunted out of the hills long
ago, and bear having become largely mythological even as early as 1850,
any sort of meat at all was hailed as a god-damn god-send. Nowadays, of
course, California is thronging with turkeys running wild everywhere.
Of course, that was in modern-day Texas, which everybody knows does not count unless you are Lyle Lovett.
These swellings are called "buboes"
What really happened what this: In the town of Hapless Camp, the memory
of which has now dissolved from the history books, there lived 148 would-be
49'ers, two female, mostly-Chinese, cooks named Nellie and Isabelle, who
pleasured the miners with food and other fine things, and their poodle,
named Cheesin-Lo. About August, end of summer, a particular flea bit a
particular miner, named Festus, and he subsequently expired of a terrible
fever that featured these obnoxious swellings all over his body. These
swellings are called "buboes" and this thing he died of is called
commonly "Bubonic Plague". Unfortunately, Festus was not overly
fastidious in his household arrangements and a whole host of fleas enjoyed
his syrup before he went.
If'n you find this 'n me, remember me. Mah name is . . . "
After he was finished being unconscious, he woke up. Then, his next
step was to regret being awake for the pain in his leg was most excruciating.
With his handy flintlock tinder he lit a small fire so as to see where
he had ended up. In fact, he lay upon a chest, quite smashed by his fall,
of thousands of gold coins. And to the side lay a skeleton. In the boney
hand of the skeleton was a piece of paper. On this piece of paper were
written the following words, "This be the long lost Mariposa Treasure.
If'n you find this 'n me, remember me. Mah name is . . . ". Unfortunately,
the rest of the note was illegible.
the life of a wannabee gold miner was difficult
The following day, Aag held a great feast to give thanks to the gods and to whatever for having saved the entire population of California from a terrible fate. And there you have it, the real and absolutely true story of how thanksgiving came west of the Mississippi River. All the other mining camps up there took up the practice as well, for the life of a wannabee gold miner was difficult and fraught with mountain lions, poor diet, bad mud, nervous jumping up and down and, generally, very little gold. So these fellas working up in the hills thousands of miles from home dearly loved a party with drinking and carousing and good eats and raucous music. Which brings us to the beginnings of rock n roll, but that is another story.
THANKSGIVING ON THE ISLAND
Here on the Island we have our own little rituals. The 4th Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ gets underway at dawn on Thursday. Aspiring hunters and lovers of good BBQ need to check out The Official Poodleshoot Rules Page for further info. You can find an account of last year's event here, which can be downloaded by right clicking and then doing a "save as" sorta thing. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.
We all love a good feed and a jolly good time as well as that good old tradition and we are full of it here on the Island. Everybody says so.
Now here's some holiday advice for y'all. Don't drive anywhere: assume every third automobile contains an incompetant boob who learned how to drive on a Hong Kong Carnival ride. Realize there aint nothing that is gonna change Uncle Ted and Aunt Whizbang in a day; they've been going at it for years. As for Uncle Bob who gets drunk every year and shoves his hands into the taters, we suggest purchasing two items beforehand: 80,000 volt stun gun and a pair of handcuffs. Things will go much better after ya invite him down to the basement to "fetch a nip or two." Believe me.
Well, that's the way it is on the Island. Have a grand week and try not to eat too much.