It was a different kind of Thanksgiving in Mansfield 100 years ago.
For one thing, Mansfielders could travel to watch professional football being played on Thanksgiving Day for the very first time. Three of those games were played in Ohio, including contests between the Akron Pros and Canton Bulldogs; the Elyria Athletics and the Columbus Panhandles; and the Dayton Triangles and the Detroit Heralds.
What was on the average Richland County dinner table that day?
Most likely, it wasn’t a turkey.
Back in 1920, the country was seeing record prices for poultry. Turkey prices soared. According to the Lima Republican-Gazette, “[T}he turkey has soared farther and farther in price, until to the ordinary man he has passed far beyond the horizon and is a thing of dinner table history only.”
The estimated cost of a turkey that year was 50 to 55 cents per pound. While that might sound reasonable based on the current prices, that was up from 30 to 35 cents per pound the year before.
Figuring in inflation, that would be a whopping $14.17 per pound!
Here in Mansfield, the News discussed the local impact of the absence of turkeys because of the bird’s “exceptional” cost. The 80 children at the Richland County Children’s Home were given a dinner of chicken, dressing, gravy and mashed potatoes, bread and butter, pumpkin pie, and fruit. Much older residents at the County Home also enjoyed candied sweet potatoes, apple sauce, “cold”slaw, and mince pie in addition to… chicken.
Perhaps the greatest impact came at the Ohio State Reformatory. There, some 1,420 inmates also enjoyed roast chicken, as well as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, celery, pickles, bread, butter, coffee, plum pudding, pears, and apples.
For the record, turkeys were available in Mansfield this year at several locations for 50 to 55 cents per pound.
The more things change, the more they remain the same?
Sources: Lima Republican-Gazette, Mansfield News, Wikipedia