Commentary: Thanksgiving keeps our memories alive and fresh

Commentary: Thanksgiving keeps our memories alive and fresh
November 22
03:00 2017

By James B. Ewers Jr,. Guest Columnist

I am now a legitimate and authentic senior citizen. I meet all age requirements whether it be from AARP or any other organization. As a result, I have celebrated a lot of Thanksgivings and am thankful for each one of them.

My earliest memories of Thanksgiving involved family and being a student at St. Benedict The Moor Catholic School.

I can remember the turkey, the dressing and the macaroni and cheese. There were also other food delights for the Thanksgiving meal. Having Sealtest ice cream with my mom’s peach pie always got me and my dad’s attention.

There weren’t a lot of television stations to watch, but I do recall the Thanksgiving football game always featured the Detroit Lions. Honestly, I never quite understood why that team was always featured on Thanksgiving.

Prior to getting out of school for Thanksgiving, the nuns would always have us drawing pictures of pilgrims and turkeys. We also had to bring a can good for a family in need. The school purchased the turkey.

One of the great things about getting out of school on Wednesday was that we didn’t have to return to school until Monday. That meant eating a lot, sleeping more and playing with my friends.

My neighborhood on Rich Avenue always had a lot of kids around. We would either go down to Skyland School to play basketball or play street baseball, sometimes right in front of my house.

Looking back now, I don’t ever remember any windows being broken or anyone having an accident. We were fortunate in that regard. However, I can remember the baseball going into Mrs. Scales’ front yard and us having to retrieve it. You did so with a bit of danger attached to it.

You see, Mrs. Scales lived next to us and she was an English teacher at Atkins High School. That wasn’t the problem! The problem was that she had a white collie named Poochie. This dog was not kid-friendly. There was no tail wagging with this dog. Mrs. Scales had a fence around her house so trying to get the baseball out of her yard was always a challenge.

Our strategy was to have a few of us distract Poochie while one of us jumped the fence. Now the question was who was going to jump the fence, get the ball and return safely. So you see, we were making some pretty heavy duty decisions at a tender age.

When I think about those Thanksgiving baseball games now, I can only laugh. As we grew older, our Fridays and Saturdays after Thanksgiving were spent going to the movies on Church Street downtown or more of the same, playing baseball or basketball at Skyland.

Every once and a while, some of us would walk downtown. I am not sure why we walked downtown since we didn’t have any money. Well, we did have enough money for two penny cookies. That was it. During this time every store had some type of layaway plan. Do you remember Mack’s Young Men’s store? They had some cool fashions but once again, our money was “short.”

While at Atkins, a few of us had the chance to go to the Turkey Bowl, which featured two colleges, North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central. One of the big boys, James Arthur Price, played for NCC. He lived on Rich Avenue and was a role model for all of us. Young boys like me simply called him Price. As big as he was, we didn’t call him by his first name.

My Thanksgivings were filled with great memories. After my mom passed away, my dad and I would celebrate Thanksgiving with my aunt Lois and my uncle Willie. Oftentimes other family members and friends would celebrate with us.

When you are a child, you are too young to count your blessings. We took being happy, having a good time and being safe for granted. We were blessed.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. Go ahead and make some memories.

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at


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