Letter: Giving Thanks

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Letter to the Editor

In response to Burt Ross’ “Appreciating the holiday” from Nov. 27: Interestingly, as a kid growing up in LA in the ‘50s into the ‘60s, my parents didn’t rigorously celebrate Thanksgiving, per se. We didn’t have the traditional turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, etc. that typifies a Thanksgiving Day meal.

Instead, we had chicken soup with matzo balls, borscht, meat loaf and kosher Jell-O for dessert. Yet, my parents were very grateful indeed to be here. For them, their effective “Thanksgiving Day” was May 8, 1945, which marked V-E Day and, concomitantly, the day my parents and other Holocaust survivors were liberated by the U.S. and its allies from concentration camps in Poland, Germany and Czechoslovakia. (My late father would always say that May 8, 1945 was actually the most memorable day in his entire life.)

They didn’t arrive on the Mayflower, nor did their distant relatives. Instead, my father and mother — in their mid-20s — arrived as first-time Polish-Jewish immigrants into the U.S. on the SS Marine Marlin — a troop transport ship — which departed the shores of war-torn Bremen, Germany on May 29, 1947, and arrived in New York on June 7, 1947. (My parents were sponsored by a family in Chicago and arrived here legally.) And, as time went on, the nationally observed Thanksgiving Day became a time of celebration, as my parents proudly became assimilated into the U.S. culture and, from day one, loved being in this country of freedom and opportunity.

And, of course, as a kid, Thanksgiving Day was a day of thanks and of football for my friends and me. We would ride our bikes from Poinsettia Park in LA (where we always played pick-up football on Sundays) to La Cienega Park, where we faced our “cross-town rivals” in what we called the annual Turkey Bowl. Fond memories, indeed.

My wife and I wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to you, Burt, and your family, as well as to Arnold and Karen, their staff and all the readers of this wonderful newspaper.

David Pepper