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And now for some fellowship, food, football - and bargain shopping: editorial

November 23, 2018

And now for some fellowship, food, football - and bargain shopping: editorial

Whether in Greater Cleveland or elsewhere in our United States, customs don’t much change when it comes to Thanksgiving weekend: After a day taking stock of all to be thankful for there is the chance for further fellowship, food, football – and, yes, bargains. 

So it was 100 years ago in Cleveland. The city’s population was approaching 800,000 – and growing. Not quite three weeks before, on Nov. 11, 1918, the War to End All Wars, World War I, had ended when Germany asked the United States, Britain and France for an armistice. The war cost the lives of about 6,500 Ohioans in uniform who died from battle or disease.

The promise of peace likely meant that Thanksgiving 1918 was more festive than otherwise in the Forest City. Soldiers and sailors who had survived the war would soon be home. The Cleveland Press editorialized that “the Brotherhood of Man [is] approaching ‘on the wings of the morning.’ ” (Meanwhile, though, “over there,” in Europe, a German soldier named Adolf Hitler was 29, and one-time seminarian Joseph Stalin was approaching 40.)

There was food on Greater Cleveland tables, hope in Cleveland hearts, and merriment – and bargains – to be had by anyone who sought them. The May Co. ballyhooed “100 Wonderful Friday Bargains,” including women’s hosiery (35 cents a pair) and a 52-piece set of china for $8.50.

Later in the weekend, football was on tap at League Park. In “the greatest gridiron event of [the] year,” the University of Pittsburgh’s squad battled the Cleveland Naval Reserves. When the dust settled Saturday, the sailors beat the Panthers, 10-9.

True, hard-news politics was no stranger, and there was no shortage of topics for Greater Cleveland’s supper table conversations Thanksgiving 1918: The Ohio General Assembly was about to ratify Prohibition and the women of Ohio were nearing the day (it came in 1920) when they could vote. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s philanthropic spirit was as vivid then as it is today. “Needy given cheer” was one headline; charities fed the poor.

Reduced to essentials, then as now, Thanksgiving is a day when Clevelanders take inventory of their lives and families. And Thanksgiving weekend is a time of merriment, recreation and shopping – best enjoyed when we share with others what we have, and they need.

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