thanksgiving wreathThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27 in observance of Thanksgiving. All of our locations will reopen on Saturday November 28 their regular business hours, 9am to 5:30pm.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

turkeyGrowing up in the Quad Cities, I remember watching Bob Vogelbaugh, aka Mr. Thanksgiving, announce his annual Thanksgiving dinner on the news or the radio every year and wondering how he managed to cook up all that food by himself to feed more than 2,000 people. Now that I’m older I realize just how much he relies on donations and volunteers to make this event happen.

Vogelbaugh is a former Moline grocery store owner who began this tradition in his small grocery store more than forty years ago. His Thanksgiving feast was held at his store for seven more years until it grew so large that he had to move it to the second floor of the YWCA, where volunteers had to carry people in wheelchairs up the stairs because there was not an elevator! Now the event takes place at Southpark Mall where Vogelbaugh says volunteers are the backbone of the event. Volunteers don’t need to sign up, they can instead just show up ready to work. They also accept donations of pies at the mall office on Wednesday, November 25, or near the children’s play area at the former Deb space on Thursday, November 26.

This year is a special occasion. It is the 45th year of the Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. As of November 12th though, the dinner was in slight jeopardy. Vogelbaugh, in an interview with KWQC, announced that to put on this dinner, he relies on donations of around $16,000 from the community and that he was only at $4,000. Check out his interview, the QC Online website, and the Southpark Mall event calendar for more information about where you can send monetary donations and how else you can help.

If you’re interested in attending the dinner, it will be served on Thursday, November 26th, from 4 to 6pm at Southpark Mall! Need a tide? Contact Metrolink at 309-788-3360.

happy thanksgiving

black-fridayAs Thanksgiving and the inevitable Black Friday shopping day nears, I found myself wondering how this shopping frenzy all began. I scoured the internet for as many sources as I could find that would tell me not only when Americans started shopping in masses the day after Thanksgiving, but why. Most importantly, how did that day get the name Black Friday? The answers to these questions are not so cut and dry as one might think.

We begin our journey during the Civil War on October 3rd, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln announces that the United States will officially celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday, and that this holiday will be held on the 4th Thursday of November each year. The first Thanksgiving was thus celebrated on November 26, 1863. As Thanksgiving falls on November 26th this year, we will be celebrating 152 years of tradition to the day.

By the early 1920’s, several retailers sponsored parades to celebrate this national holiday. In 1924 Macy’s held their first Thanksgiving Day Parade. At the end of each parade came Santa Claus and officially marked the beginning of the holiday season. It became wide practice that retailers would not advertise Christmas sales until after the conclusion of Thanksgiving. With such a hard fast unwritten rule in place, the day after Thanksgiving quickly became the day to shop for the holidays and be the first to see all the specials.

As time went on, shopping on the day after Thanksgiving increased in popularity. Many businesses treated the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday in itself. Even school was not held on this day. However there were some groups of workers that were forced into working the day after Thanksgiving each year. In as early as 1951, business owners were using the term ‘Black Friday’ to refer to the number of employees to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving.

Philadelphia is more widely credited with boosting the popularity of the phrase during the 1960’s. Things were particularly troublesome the day after Thanksgiving as police were forced into working twelve hour shifts and crowds filled the streets. According to, “the term ‘Black Friday’ came out of the old Philadelphia Police Department’s traffic squad. The cops used it to describe the worst traffic jams which annually occurred in Center City on the Friday after Thanksgiving.” During the 1980’s, retailers began using the phrase in association with the big shopping day to signify when their red (negative or loss) accounting book entries turned to black (positive or profits). By the 90’s retailers were using the term in advertising for holiday specials and sales taking place the day after Thanksgiving.

In the early 2000’s retailers began opening their doors earlier and earlier. In 2011, several major retailers announced they would open doors at midnight. The next year, Walmart opened their doors at 8:00 PM Thanksgiving Day. Today stores are opening as early as 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day. With this new trend, I can’t help but wonder how long we will continue to call it Black Friday?

Will you be out shopping on Black Friday or clicking on computer keys enjoying cyber deals from the comfort of your own home? Perhaps you will be boycotting the holiday by remaining firmly on your couch digesting those delicious holiday foods. If you are one of the hard working Americans that will be taking up a post directing traffic or ringing up items, I thank you and wish you a happy day after the day after Thanksgiving.

The Davenport library will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 22nd and 23rd in observance of Thanksgiving. All three buildings will reopen their regular hours on Saturday November 24th – 9:30am to 5:30pm.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Thanksgiving : How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton is a definitive, timeless guide to Thanksgiving dinner – preparing it, surviving it, and pulling it off in style. From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Thanksgiving poses more – and more vexing – problems for the home cook than any other holiday. In this smartly written, beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled book, Sam Sifton delivers a message of great comfort and solace: ‘There is no need for fear. You can cook a great meal on Thanksgiving. You can have a great time.’

With simple, fool-proof recipes for classic Thanksgiving staples, as well as new takes on old standbys, this book will show you that the fourth Thursday of November does not have to be a day of kitchen stress and family drama, of dry stuffing and sad, cratered pies. You can make a better turkey than anyone has ever served you in your life, and you can serve it with gravy that is not lumpy or bland but a salty balm, rich in flavor, that transforms all it touches. Here are recipes for exciting side dishes and robust pies and festive cocktails, instructions for setting the table and setting the mood, as well as cooking techniques and menu ideas that will serve you all year long, whenever you are throwing a big party.

Written for novice and experienced cooks alike, Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well is your guide to making Thanksgiving the best holiday of the year. It is not fantasy. If you prepare, it will happen. And this book will show you how. (description from publisher)

Happy Thanksgiving! All of the Davenport Library buildings – Main, Fairmount and Eastern – will be closed today in observance of the holiday. We will be back to our regular hours tomorrow, 9:30am – 5:30pm, at all three locations.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

If you’re looking for a little escape from the family togetherness during the next big holiday, try one of these dvds in which  families and friends display a range of dysfunctional behavior during the Thanksgiving season.

Jody Foster directed the surprisingly funny Home for the Holidays. Starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr., as her irreverent brother. Hunter plays a single mom who loses her job right before Thanksgiving. This is only the beginning of a very stressful holiday with her eccentric family.

Friends, the Complete Eighth Season had a classic episode with special guest Brad Pitt, (married at the time to Jennifer Aniston). He played Will, a high school classmate of Ross and Rachel’s. Unbeknownst to Rachel, they were both members of the “I Hate Rachel” club. Rachel doesn’t recognize Will because he is much slimmer than he was in high school.  Pitt shows off  excellent comic timing in this show.

The Thanksgiving episode of The Middle, Season One revolves around Mom Frankie’s doomed effort to force her family to celebrate a traditional dinner, and to accommodate her boss’ demand that she work at the car dealership.  (The Middle refers to the middle class family in the middle of the country).In typical Heck family fashion, they aren’t able to pull this off. If you haven’t seen this series, now is the time to start.

thanksgivingThe Davenport Public Library will be closed today in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll be open again tomorrow, 9:30am to 5:30pm.

Here’s hoping you and your family and friends enjoy a safe and wonderful holiday!

It’s almost here – the non-stop food fest that we call “the Holiday Season”! The next six weeks, from Thanksgiving to New Years will be filled with eating opportunities galore. In any culture, sharing food – especially homemade food – brings together families, friends and communities, creating bonds that last. Putting together all of that food can be a lot of work though, so this week the Info Cafe blog is going to focus on some of the new cookbooks that are now available. Be sure to stop by the library and check out a copy!

newthanksgivingtableThanksgiving, a holiday celebrating the harvest, is all about food – there’s no pressure to find the perfect present or outdo the neighbors with your light display. It’s also maybe the most traditional – almost everyone automatically thinks of turkey when they think of Thanksgiving. It’s how you fix the turkey and your choice of side dishes where family traditions take over.

If you’re looking for something different, or if this is your first year hosting the big event, take a look at The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan with it’s traditional yet fresh approach to the meal. There is a nice variety of choices listed for the basics – turkey, stuffing, gravy, vegetables, deserts – with some interesting twists included. How about Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting instead of the ubiquitous  pumpkin pie? Or shake things up with Molly’s Pumpkin-and-Sage Lasagna.

Two chapters make this book a stand-out – “Regional Thanksgiving Menus with Timetables” that will help any cook plan for the big day, and “Leftover Favorites” which lists several tasty ways to deal with leftovers that go beyond the turkey sandwich.

And don’t despair if you can’t get ahold of this book in time for Thanksgiving – the autumn themed recipes will be just as delicious at Christmas or New Years, or any wintertime family gathering.

That wonderful day is coming when family is around, turkey is on the table and football is on the TV – Thanksgiving day. Thanksgiving was not always celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November nor were the main foods always turkey, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole.

The first US Thanksgiving was held between September 21 and November 11, 1621 in Massachusetts by 50 Plymouth Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag neighbors. The meal consisted of seafood: cod, eel, clams and lobster; and fowl: wild turkey, goose, duck, crane, swan, partridge and eagles. There was pumpkin, peas, beans, onions, radishes and carrots with plums and grapes for fruit. After this first Thanksgiving, the holiday was held fairly randomly. It was used to celebrate a good harvest or making it though the winter. It wasn’t until President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill on November 26, 1941 that Thanksgiving was established as the fourth Thursday in November.

Davenport has its own unique Thanksgiving tradition – the Turkey Note. A Turkey Note is a simple 2, 3 or 4 line rhyme that is wrapped in a tissue paper, tied at both ends and given to friends and family. Turkey notes go like this:

Turkey Brown

Turkey Baste

Turkey dinners

Go to waist

If you went to grade school in Davenport, it’s likely you’ve written a few Turkey Notes yourself. What was your favorite? Or try your hand at writing a new one, whether you’ve written one before or not – they’re fun! Get in the holiday spirit and share it in the comments!

You can find out more about Turkey Notes and other unique aspects of Davenport history in the Richardson Sloane Special Collections Department located in the lower level of the Main library.