Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I'm wondering why we never give appreciation to the individual who made Thanksgiving possible. Most of us think only of eating enough to feed a small village and then fall asleep in our cushy leather recliner. I think the true story of Thanksgiving will make you ponder gratitude.

He was a Patuxet Indian, and his name was Squanto. His story is remarkable. When he was a young man, he went to England on a trading ship. He was made part of an Indian Exhibit on a London stage, he worked as a servant, was tricked into going on board a slave ship to Spain where he was sold.

Luckily, he fell into the hands of a group of friars at a Catholic monastery. They freed him and turned him into a Christian. By the time he located a ship captain that would agree to take him home, twelve years had passed. When he returned home, there was no trace of his family or friends. They had all been struck with a great sickness. Every one of them had died. He was the last of his tribe, but at least he could speak english. Heh.

Squanto was the one who showed the Pilgrims how to build warm houses. Then, taught them when and where to plant. He showed them how use fish for fertilizer to grow corn faster. He even taught the women how to cook the corn. He acted as an interpreter, guide, and gave advice on bargaining with the natives. Without him, the pilgrims would never have survived the season.
After further investigation, I found there was one particular pilgrim woman who rankled Squanto to the edge of insanity. It turns out she was the great great great great grandmother of Martha Stewart. Her name was Martha Wart, the daughter of Stu and Penelope Wart. It seems she delighted in following after Squanto to improve on his demonstrations of planting and cooking.

Martha Wart was the first woman to use lobster claws to hold the corners of the tablecloths down when feasting outside. She served Brunswick stew richly seasoned with her very own garden herbs and often substituted squirrel or oppossum for deer. Squanto was used to one-pot meals but Martha rarely stuck to one pot. Often, she served Racoon wraps with her soups and stews and used sun-dried ceramic plates which she had fashioned from the loamy soil from her courtyard.

It wasn't unusual to see her gathering sweet gum tree spurs to make place cards for the harvest festivals. She showed Squanto how to make decorative turkeys from autumn leaves and roasted nuts over an open fire using a wire basket she molded from abandoned horse shoes. She constructed a still made from a boiler chamber and pipes she smuggled aboard ship.
Soon she had a wonderful mix of homemade vodka that served as the core of many 'happy hours', which she named them. Blackberry crushes and Lemon Shadies wer the favorite drinks of the ladies while the men preferred her brew strait from the jug. They showed Squanto how to do shots.

It has always been believed that Squanto died of pneumonia however there were some questions when the mortician found a lovely organza draw string bag sewn to the inside of his deer skin jacket, filled with dried buds, barks, roots, seeds and berries. Martha explained that it was for luck, however it was suspected that some of the ingredients, when mixed together formed a lethal bacteria.
The Pilgrims mourned Squanto's passing and held a wake lasting more than a week. Of course, Martha was head of the entertainment committee. Soon after, the women began asking Martha for tips for gardening, decorating and cooking. The rest is history.

No comments:

Post a Comment