To begin, let me just say I’m fully aware this column has a Thanksgiving feel to it, and I’m further fully aware it will be printed a full 3 days after the holiday. I haven’t lost (what’s left of) my marbles. Nor have I run out of material. It’s just that I came across this really interesting article in the Smithsonian Magazine after the turkey day column deadline that I thought my twelve and-a-third loyal readers (statistically speaking) would appreciate.

Besides, as you’ll see, what I’m about to share pertains to the other holidays in our Holiday Season as well, so let’s just get on with this, shall we?

Did you know turkey probably wasn’t served at the original Thanksgiving? (There’s also no evidence that Native Americans attended, either, but who am I to drool into the Holiday punchbowl? We’re here to discuss the interesting factoid I learned from an article I read in the Smithsonian Magazine.)

Yes sir, some experts say turkey was not served at the original Thanksgiving. They claim the celebrants that day probably dined on venison and oysters. (Like I’ve always said, nothing expresses thankfulness more than scarfing of gamey meat, along with seafood that does an impressive impersonation of phlegm.)

However, other experts say venison probably was not consumed on that first Thanksgiving feast, either. They point out that the holiday feasts of lots of people, from the time of the first settlers right up until the early 20th Century, featured what folks could trap or kill, and since small game is a lot more prevalent than deer and elk, most holiday feasts consisted of small game. You know, varmints. And you might be shocked to learn the feast varmint of choice was raccoon. Leading us to wonder two things: First, which end do you put the stuffing in? (Either way, the visual is, in a word, creepy.) And most importantly, what does raccoon taste like?

(At this point, the writer of this tome feels the need to emphatically state he does not consider people who feast on varmints to be lesser beings. Homo Sapiens, are, after all, omnivores, and as such, there’s really no limit to the icky stuff we ingest. (Canned cranberry sauce being a prime example of this.) Hence, I firmly believe the turkey eater and the varmint feaster are equal in their Creator’s eyes.)

But getting back to the point, they say raccoon tastes like a combination of chicken, (doesn’t everything?) and suckling pig. So, there you have it. Until very recently (historically-speaking,) it would seem America was a nation of Holiday varmint feasters. Which takes us to the following true tale. (You can look it up.)

In November of 1926, one Vinnie Joyce of Nitta Yuma, Mississippi was so enamored of President Calvin Coolidge, he sent the president a live raccoon to be cooked for the presidential Thanksgiving dinner.

Coolidge, however, did not eat the raccoon. (My guess is being part of the mucky-muck class, the Coolidges were as unfamiliar with dining on varmints as most folks are today.) Instead, the Coolidges made it a family pet. They named it Rebecca, and gave it a nice collar for Christmas.

Rebecca enjoyed walks on the White House lawn with the Coolidges and even attended the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and she was famous for occasionally running off. Luckily, she was most times found rummaging through DC garbage cans.

So, what’s the difference between a raccoon and a politician?

One is a filthy, possibly disease-ridden, bandit-looking, disgusting varmint, that rummages in garbage, terrorizes neighborhoods and makes a mess of just about everything it gets its grubby little mitts on, and the other is a raccoon.

Uh-huh. I just took a very, very long journey to try to make the (possibly dubious) point that over the course of the 24 years I’ve written this column, I’ve never been a fan of any politician. Granted, my disdain for some politicians is greater than it is for others, but please know I find all politicians, regardless of ideology or party, to be varmint-like. (With all apologies to varmints, who don’t deserve the analogy.)

At any rate have a very raccoon Holiday Season. (To paraphrase Larry, of “Newhart’s” Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl fame, “What part of the raccoon do you like?)

Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.

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