National Day of Listening

Today is the first annual National Day of Listening, sponsored by StoryCorps. The purpose of the day is to encourage you to listen to and record a story from the life of a relative or friend. The day after Thanksgiving is ideal since many people have the day off from work, and many families gather for the long weekend.

Capturing memories is beyond any price and you – and your children and grandchildren – will be glad you did. History taught in school may be about dates and big events, but the real flavor of history is in how people lived every day and how those big events affected them. Recording the story of how your Dad rode his horse every day to the one-room schoolhouse, or how your grandmother cooked elaborate meals on a wood burning stove not only brings them to life once again, it keeps them alive for future generations. Find out how your Uncle Bill felt when he returned from the war in Iraq, your Mother’s stories of moving away from home for the first time to go to law school, of the time your cousin broke his leg playing on the swing set or how your brother managed to flip your Dad’s car – twice. Listening may be the greatest gift you can give both to the storyteller and to yourself.

StoryCorps website has some excellent resources to get you started – how to get ready for the interview, how to actively listen to the speaker, how to record the stories (either in writing, on audio or on video) and even offer a Question Generator to help you get started. They also encourage you to share your stories through their website and list several that are available to listen to for inspiration.

For more information about StoryCorps and their goals, visit their website or check out Listening is an Act of Love by David Isay, a collection of some of the most inspiring and moving stories that have been recorded so far. You’ll be motivated to not only record some of your family’s stories today, but to make it an annual holiday tradition.

Thanksgiving Traditions and Turkey Notes

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.

Turkey Time!

It’s Thanksgiving and it’s your turn to cook! What to do? It can be especially unnerving if this is your first time cooking for all the relatives. Relax — it’s actually easier than you think. Here are a few tips:

1) Delegate. Have each guest (or family unit) bring a dish to share. Not only do people really want to contribute, but it also makes them feel needed and appreciated. And, as you know, Thanksgiving is all about showing gratitude!

2) Plan Ahead. Set the table the day before. Designate which serving dish you’ll use for each item on the menu. Peel the potatoes, bake the pumpkin pie. Anything that you can prepare ahead of time will make your job on Thanksgiving day that much easier.

3) Laugh at Your Goofs! Keep a sense of humor — it helps you and your guests. Plus, it won’t be the first time someone left the bag of giblets inside the turkey!

4) Call a Hotline. When all else fails, here’s who to call:

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 888-674-6854. Food-safety specialists will answer food preparation questions from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Butterball Turkey-Talk Line: 800-288-8372. A team of home economists will answer bird-related questions on Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Crisco Pie Hotline: 877-367-7438. Get advice from pie pros from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

5) Have a glass of wine. Relax! Enjoy yourself. You may think it’s all about the food, but it’s really about the company you keep. Now, go out and have a happy Thanksgiving!

An Alternative to Parades and Football

For those who don’t like parades or football, try a Thanksgiving movie:

Alice’s Restaurant (1969) – Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie’s song is converted into a motion picture. Arlo goes to see Alice for Thanksgivng and as a favor takes her trash to the dump. When the dump is closed, he drops it on top of another pile of garbage at the bottom of a ravine. When the local sheriff finds out a major manhunt begins. Arlo manages to survive the courtroom experience but it haunts him when he is to be inducted into the army via the draft

Home for the Holidays (1995) – Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft

After losing her job, making out with her soon to be ex-boss, and finding out that her daughter plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson has to face spending the holiday with her family. She wonders if she can survive their crazy antics.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to Charlie Brown’s for Thanksgiving, and with Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he attempts to throw together a Thanksgiving dinner.

Pieces of April (2003) – Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt

April Burns (Holmes) invites her family to Thanksgiving dinner at her teeny apartment on New York’s Lower East Side. As they make their way to the city from suburban Pennsylvania, April must endure a comedy of errors – like finding out her oven doesn’t work – in order to pull off the big event.

Ice Storm (1997) – Kevin Kline, Joan Allen

In the weekend after Thanksgiving 1973, the Hoods are skidding out of control. Benjamin Hood reels from drink to drink, trying not to think about his trouble at the office. His wife, Elena, is reading self help books and losing patience with her husband’s lies. Their son, Paul, home for the holidays, escapes to the city to pursue an alluring rich girl from his prep school. And young, budding nymphomaniac, Wendy Hood roams the neighborhood, innocently exploring liquor cabinets and lingerie drawers of her friends’ parents, looking for something new. Then an ice storm hits, the worst in a century and things get bad…

The 80-Yard Run by Theron Hopkins

The Iowa High School Football championships will be played today and tomorrow at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. High school football, with it’s cheerleaders, marching bands and Homecoming traditions is part coming-of-age, part serious sport marked by chilly night games played under the lights.

Theron Hopkins set out across the country on a 20-week coast-to-coast exploration of high school football, along the way finding the heart and drama that makes it unique. Traveling from summer practice to a series of state championships, he discovers that what takes place under the lights is only a part – and maybe not even the best part – of what makes high school football so important and beloved by the people who watch it, coach it and play it.

The 80-Yard Run visits schools big and small, from all parts of the country and includes a stopover with the Bettendorf Bulldogs as they prepare to take on Davenport North (2003 season) Other stories range from the coach at Great Falls, Minnesota who uses his own money to purchase weight equipment for the team to Waldport, Oregon with just 14 players on the varsity team to football-crazy Massillon, Ohio where the president of the booster club puts a tiny toy football into every baby boy’s crib at the hospital.

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell

Agnes Shanklin, a 40-year-old schoolteacher from Ohio, is still reeling from the tragedies of the Great War and the influenza epidemic. A modest inheritance allows her to take the trip of a lifetime and travel to Egypt and the Holy Land. Arriving just as the Cairo Peace Conference of 1921 begins, Agnes becomes an observer and confident of the historic players – including Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) – that will, in the course of a few days, invent the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.

Best known for her award winning science fiction novels, Russell’s Dreamers of the Day is historical fiction at it’s best – the characters and their actions are believable and the history is made real through the skillful use of period details and atmosphere. “Seeing” the formation of these countries and the divisions of loyalties – many of which have lead directly to issues we still face in the region today – was fascinating and enlightening.

There’s more than history here, though – you will get caught up in Agnes’ personal story, her triumphs and set-backs, her clear-eyed perspective as she and her little dog Rosie walk in history’s shadow.

Eat Feed Autumn Winter by Anne Bramley

As autumn fades and winter arrives, we look forward to the holidays of the season to brighten the cold and gray days ahead – from Thanksgiving to Super Bowl Sunday and beyond, there are all kinds of reasons and excuses to get together with friends and family. And to eat, of course!

It’s easy to eat seasonally and locally in the summer when it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with the abundance, but Anne Bramley’s Eat Feed Autumn Winter shows you that not only is it possible, it’s easy and delicious to eat well in the colder months too. Recipes are arranged by festive menus, with the emphasis on non-traditional celebrations: Guy Fawkes Day, Greek Harvest, Afternoon Tea, Election Night Get Together, Spring Eve. As well as the usual information on how to stock your pantry and cooking tips, Eat Feed Autumn Winter is liberally sprinkled with the facts and stories behind the events of the cold season from around the world.

Don’t forget, the Davenport Farmer’s Market continues all winter in the Freight House on West River Drive!

Don’t let winter get you down – instead, celebrate it with good food and good friends.

Let’s Play!

November 16-22 is National Games and Puzzles Week.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play chess?

Try The Art of Chess by Colleen Schafroth.

Have you ever needed help with a crossword clue?

Try the Merriam Webster’s Crossword Puzzle Dictionary.

Have you ever wanted to play a fast-paced video or computer game?

Try Kung Fu Panda or I SpyTreasure Hunt.

Have you ever wanted to see if you are Mensa material, i.e., the top 2% of the population in I.Q.?

Try The Mensa Genius ABC Quiz Book by Alan Stillson.

Have you ever wanted to put a jigsaw puzzle together but didn’t want to go out and buy one?

Try our collection at the Main Library. You can check out these 500-2000 piece puzzles just like a book! Where are they? You can find them the northeast corner of the first floor, behind the Reference section.