“What Estelle Could Do In Emergency.” found in Orange County Observer compiled from Washington Star, December 3, 1908, Courtesy of Newspaper.com.

Published on December 3, 1908, the Orange County Observer (Hillsboro) compiled a short story, “What Estelle Could Do In Emergency.” from Washington Star.[1] The short story makes the assumption that readers understand the story is about a family preparing and planning to host guests for a Thanksgiving Day Dinner. This story was published a week after Thanksgiving Day in 1908. [2] Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday and a time when families gather to have a festive meal together. Hence, this story provides readers an insight into the types of dishes that were considered appropriate for a special Thanksgiving dinner where a family would be hosting guests.

Although this short story was originally published in the Washington Star, the editors of the Orange County Observer must have felt the readers of the newspaper would be able to relate to the story. This could indicate that families in Orange County were of a certain socioeconomic status that would be able to relate to Estelle’s family. The language used in the story is also indicative of the culture in the early 1900s. An example is when Frank describes Estelle in her kitchen wear. He says, “you’d have seen her in her kitchen regalia. And it’s awfully becoming, too.” This could reflect a traditionally patriarchal culture during the time period.

The story not only provides insight into the meals prepared by families in Orange County during the time period. It also allows for comparison to Thanksgiving Day meals both before and after this time period. Thanksgiving Day meals can be traced back to Native American traditions [3] when Native Americans would give thanks when their corn was ready for harvest. As time went on, the type of foods eaten evolved from simple cornbread [3] to decadent boiled dish with egg sauce [4]. The comparison can also be made between the meal prepared in the short story and actual Thanksgiving meals made by families in Orange County during the time period to gain a better understanding of festive meals prepared by families.

1. Washington Star. “What Estelle Could Do In Emergency.” Orange County Observer, 3 Dec. 1908, XVIII ed., sec. 12. pp. 1. Accessed October 05, 2018. https://universityofnorthcarolinaatchapelhill-newspapers-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/image/67783565/
2. “Theodore Roosevelt: ‘Proclamation 822-Thanksgiving Day, 1908’” October 31, 1908.’”  Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.  Accessed October 09, 2018. www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=69627
3. Waugh, F. W. Iroquois Foods And Food Preparation. 1916. Accessed October 08, 2018. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodthanksgiving.html

Wilcox, Estelle Woods. Buckeye Cookery. Minneapolis Minnesota. Accessed October 08, 2018. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodthanksgiving.html

— Marcus Tan