Rim Country Thanksgiving Traditions

BACKTRACKIN'

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My people -- the Neals, Hales, Griffins, and Peaces -- were also ranchers, cowboys and hunters, among other things. They all came from Texas and settled in Gisela and Pleasant Valley. Great-Granddad Will Neal and Great-Granddad Al Griffin had been Texas Rangers.

In Pleasant Valley (Young), Granddad Will Peace was a crack shot, so it was easy for him to bring in a wild turkey for Grandma Myrtle Peace to cook in her big wood cook stove. Granddad Will had five sons -- Albert, Calvin, Ezra, Edwin and Lyman -- who could have handled the job for him, if he was busy.

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Birdie Hale, Jayne's maternal grandmother.

Grandma Peace was a Southern cook and made all the traditional foods for Thanksgiving Dinner -- turkey, corn bread dressing, potatoes, giblet gravy, yams, corn, green beans, cranberry relish, and of course, her famous custard, apple, and pumpkin pies with lots of whipped cream.

Grandma Peace was a good Baptist and started her dinners by asking God to bless the food. I never spent a Thanksgiving at her home, but my dad, Calvin Peace, has often told us about the big dinners she prepared.

I grew up in Gisela with my mother's people, the Hales and the Neals, and spent every holiday with them. At one time my great-grandfather owned a lot of land in Gisela, but as it was handed down through the generations, each place became smaller.

It was great to grow up surrounded by family members, usually four generations.

Grandma Birdie Hale, like Grandma Peace, was a Southern cook and she cooked a lot. She looked forward to holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas when she could show off the wonderful fruits, vegetables and jams she had canned.

Also, Grandma Hale made the best bread I have ever eaten. She made all kinds, but for special occasions, she made Angel Rolls, which just melted in your mouth.

Grandma also raised turkeys to sell, so no one had to go hunting for a wild turkey. When Thanksgiving came, Granddad Duke Hale would send a couple of young, tender turkeys to turkey heaven and Grandma Birdie would prepare their earthly remains for Thanksgiving dinner.

She also made corn bread dressing, white potatoes that Granddad had raised, giblet gravy, corn, a big pot of beans, sweet potatoes, and more. She also made everyone's favorite pies. We all sat around her big table for dinner, but kept our eyes on the dessert table off to the side which was laden with pumpkin, apple, pear, apricot, peach and pecan pies.

One tradition of Grandma Hale's which we try to keep alive is having blackberry dumplings on Thanksgiving eve. I recall cooking these dumplings for many years, and I think my Uncle Robert Hale liked them best.

Now for Thanksgiving, Jinx and I carry on our families' traditions with a few twists of modernization. Jinx hunts a turkey at Bashas' and I make corn bread dressing and all the things our grandmothers made. We even have a dessert table with our favorite pies.

Of course, my sister, Jeanne, helps cook, and Dad and Dorothy seem to enjoy the feast. This year, my son, Shawn Haught, and his wife, Summer, and the five children, Matthew, Hunter, Garrett, Hannah and Rylee, are coming up from the Valley to join us for Thanksgiving.

Family. That's what it's really all about. Thinking back on the Thanksgivings of my younger years conjure up great memories of family, love and happiness. I feel it is so important to carry on traditions and make memories for our children and grandchildren.

So, yep, we will be having blackberry dumplings on Thanksgiving eve. Then on Thanksgiving Day, Jeanne, Summer and I will cook the dinner and Jinx and Shawn will carve the turkey. I can hardly wait.

Happy Thanksgiving.

-- Jayne

If you are wondering how to cook a wild turkey, read how Babe Haught cooked turkey for Zane Grey in "Cooking for Zane Grey Under the Tonto Rim" by Jayne Peace Pyle. This book, along with Jayne and Jinx's other books, are for sale at their new business, Git A Rope Art and Antique Corral, located at 1104 S. Beeline Highway. Stop by and browse. The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. And don't miss the big "Day After Thanksgiving Sale." Everything in the store is 10 percent off.

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