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Nation Remembers The Less Fortunate on Day of Thanksgiving

November 29, 1985

Undated (AP) _ Space shuttle astronauts feasted on irradiated turkey, New Yorkers gathered in a chill rain to watch the annual Thanksgiving Day parade and comic strips mixed humor with grim reminders of famine as families drew their chairs up to tables Thursday to count their blessings for another year.

Across the nation, it was a day to remember others, from flood victims in West Virginia to starving children in Ethiopia. ″Daddy″ Bruce Randolph whipped up barbecue for 100,000 in Denver, where part of East 34th Street officially took on his name, while 40 needy families in El Paso, Texas, feasted on turkey, dressing and other staples delivered by retired mailman Raul Natividad and his brother, Joe.

″If you don’t have any place to go or you can afford only a burger and fries for a Thanksgiving dinner, then come on down,″ was the call of Houston businessman J. David Moeller, who rounded up 100 turkeys to throw a free dinner in front of City Hall.

″I’ve got a lot to be thankful for,″ said Richard Dallara, a Garberville, Calif., man who lived for four days with a mechanical heart before getting a human organ Oct. 29. ″Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I just cry because it’s so good to be alive.″

Dallara, who was released from a San Francisco hospital to spend a few hours with his family, received word Tuesday that his body appeared to be rejecting the new heart.

Clowns and stars sloshed down rainy Broadway in New York City for the 59th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, shrugging off the wet for the enjoyment of millions of children.

″It’s cold. It’s raining. But at least it’s Thanksgiving,″ said Bill Classen, one of the Macy’s employees who inflated the parade’s trademark helium-filled balloons. ″It could be worse.″

Kermit the Frog sprung a few leaks, forcing workers to lift his dragging green feet from the pavement. And 72-foot-tall Betty Boop, this year’s new arrival, peeped into an apartment and tipped precariously toward a traffic island as 40 workers struggled to keep her under control.

New Yorkers tuned to the radio instead of television heard WOR talk show host John A. Gambling read some of the comic strips that carried a reminder of hunger on the day of plenty. From ″Dick Tracy″ to ″Doonesbury,′ ′ nearly 200 strips joined in.

Some of the homeless in Washington, D.C., spotlighted in recent weeks by ″Doonesbury″ cartoonist Garry Trudeau gathered in a park across from the White House for turkey and all the trimmings, provided by shelters and churches.

Thousands of people were in the air Thursday, taking advantage of low airline fares offered to attract holiday travelers.

Newark International Airport expected 410,000 passengers to pass through its gates between Wednesday and Sunday, while officials at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago braced for 100,000 travelers on Thursday.

Miami International Airport reported a busy day, and Tom Riley of the Salt Lake City International Airport said it was the busiest Thanksgiving his airport had experienced.

President Reagan spent the day at his mountaintop ranch in California with his brother and three of his four children. The family got a greeting from the sky when pilot Pete Cottle flew over the ranch with a 120-foot red-and-white banner that read ″Happy Thanksgiving Ron and Nancy.″

In Philadelphia, thousands of people with umbrellas lined rainy downtown streets to watch the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade. ″It’s a shame there were more people in the parade than there were watching it,″ said observer Lee Breslin.

The menu for the seven astronauts aboard space shuttle Atlantis included turkey kept fresh by gamma rays, freeze-dried vegetables and heat-processed cranberry sauce. Some turkeys purchased for holiday meals in New York and New Jersey were returned to stores Thursday following reports that they gave off a foul odor.

Hungry high rollers got chance to mix dinner with dice at Atlantic City casinos as some hotel restaurants offered turkey dinners.

Dartmouth College students in Hanover, N.H., had Thanksgiving dinner in shanties they erected on the snowy college green. Students have been living in the shacks to protest the plight of blacks living under South Africa’s apartheid government.

At Plymouth, Mass., residents re-enacted a Pilgrim procession begun 60 years ago to commemorate the three-day harvest celebration in 1621 that included white settlers and Native Americans. For some Indians, the day was tinged with irony.

″The bounty of the country has not come to the Indian people,″ said Leonard Brugier of Vermillion, S.D. Said Steve Emery, a University of South Dakota student who 10 years ago demonstrated with other Indians at Plymouth Rock, ″I look at the mere fact that we stil survive today as a reason to be thankful.″

Residents of West Virginia counties ravaged by floods three weeks ago also gave thanks for survival as the Red Cross and Salvation Army trucked and airlifted meals for 10,000 victims and volunteers into the disaster zone. Dinners were less lavish than usual for some residents of Apalachicola, Fla., who lost their livelihoods when three hurricanes closed the adjacent bay and destroyed oyster beds.

In Laurinburg, N.C., June and Rick Brooks remembered the 9-month-old son they lost the day after Thanksgiving 1983. Joshua had received a liver transplant two weeks earlier.

His parents appeared at a U.S. Senate hearing on proposed legislation for a computer network to help those in need of transplants.

″No one should take this day for granted,″ Mrs. Brooks said. ″Remember the good things - health, love.″

In Toledo, Ohio, Alice Najarian’s Thanksgiving dinner for three children, eight grandchildren and 117 other relatives marked the end of a project that began last spring, when the 72-year-old woman planted the vegetables served at her table.

″She does all the work with ease, grace and pride,″ said one relative, Richard Tavtigian. ″The wonderful spirit of the holiday lasts us all year.″

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