Black: The first cowboy Thanksgiving
In November 1621, a Thursday, I believe, the pilgrims were fixin’ to set down to a meager meal of fish sticks and boiled beets. When out of the woods marched a jovial band of Indians packin’ a bushel of roastin’ ears and two wild turkeys. Thursday, Thanksgiving, as we know it today, was born.
But what if those generous Indians had chosen to take their bounty to the wild game feed at the VFW, instead? And in their place, the pilgrims were met by a crew of cowboys on their day off? These pre-Revolutionary buckaroos would have passed around their own Wild Turkey. Soon as everybody was tuned up and visitin’ like used-car salesmen, preparations would have been made for chuck. They’d have barbecued a couple Spanish goats, some buzzard jerky, a side of javelina, and a bucket of quail. Not to mention a jackrabbit they’d run over on the way into camp.
As a special treat they’d have thrown a few Rocky Mountain oysters on the hot rock for hors d’oeuvres. I can just see the young, single, upwardly mobile Pilgrim girls gigglin’ and gnawin’ on a piece of javelina haunch. Toasts would have been made to all the greats: Christopher Columbus, John Smith, John Alden, James Fenimore Cooper, Wilford Bromley, Bob Wills, Sir Walter Raleigh, Lee Pitts, Kaycee Feild, Pocahontas, and Francis Scott Key. No cowboy gatherin’ would be complete without a fiddle. The cowboys might have taught ‘em the two-step and the cotton-eyed Joe. The Pilgrims would reciprocate with the minuet and Turkey in the Straw.
No doubt, Paul “Rawhide” Revere would have snuck Priscilla over to Sooner Rock (200 yards up the beach from Plymouth Rock, discovered by two Okies who stowed away on the Mayflower and jumped ship early, claiming the continent for a Pawhuska for a little spoonin’).
By dawn they’d all be sayin’ good-bye and promising to meet again next year.
If that scenario had occurred, Thanksgiving would be different today. It would be more like a combination of New Year’s Eve and Custer’s last stand. Every November we’d be sittin’ down to a table bristlin’ with brisket and beans. The centerpiece would be the traditional cow skull, and afterwards everybody would have a piece of armadillo mince pie.
However, the turkey would not have been lost completely. It would have become the symbol of another national celebration that stops the country in its tracks and gives us pause to think … Election Day! ❖