Happy Thanksgiving!

6th O.V.I. eating Thanksgiving dinner, 1898. Courtesy of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center via Ohio Memory.

A slightly-belated Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Ohio Memory! As many of us spend the day getting in some early holiday shopping or relaxing after yesterday’s big meal, we wanted to show off just a few Thanksgiving images of years past. Above, you’ll see Company I of the 6th O.V.I. eating Thanksgiving dinner with the 1st West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Company I at Camp Poland in Knoxville, Tennessee. Soon after, the 6th Ohio was transferred to Cienfuegos, Cuba, as an occupation force during the Spanish-American War. Imagine preparing turkey and stuffing for that crowd!

Jack Spratt and his wife in Rike’s Toy Parade, 1935, via Ohio Memory
Official program of West Virginia State vs. Wilberforce game, Thanksgiving Day, 1941. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center via Ohio Memory.


Up next is Ohio’s version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade–the Rike’s Toy Parade in Dayton! Started in 1923 (one year before the Macy’s tradition began), the Toy Parade was held each Thanksgiving Day to kick off holiday shopping at Rike’s. Popular characters include Mr. and Mrs. Spratt (above), as well as Humpty Dumpty and “Princess Sari on her royal elephant, Jumbo.” Santa Claus was also known to make his first appearance of the season, climbing to the Rike’s rooftop and descending to the store via the chimney. Rike’s, known officially as the Rike Kumler Co., was Dayton’s leading department store for decades, and the parade was an annual occurrence from 1923 until 1942.

Everyone knows that another Thanksgiving Day tradition with a long history is the football game, as seen with the program at left. With annual “Thanksgiving Classic” games, professional teams, college teams and amateurs all help to ensure that the day’s entertainment doesn’t end after the morning parades. But you may not have known that the tradition stretches all the way back to 1876, when Yale and Princeton teams first began facing off each year during the holiday.

This Thanksgiving, we wish you all a safe holiday weekend filled with family, friends and food. Gobble gobble!

The Ohio Girls’ Club of Washington, D.C., celebrates Thanksgiving at St. John’s Hospitality Center, 1948, via Ohio Memory.

Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!

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