As I drive the school bus along some of the dirt county roads it really is a nature trail with deer
everywhere, the odd fox or two and a large flock of dumb arsed turkeys wandering along beside the
road. I can imagine that after a year of living off the land Thanksgiving for surviving year one was
celebrated by catching one of these meaty birds and trying to cook same.

Once again I’ll be sending out to Messers Walmart and Safeway to hunt and gather all the necessary provisions and once more  Brenda will be doing the pilgrim bit in the kitchen. No doubt our doors will
be open to waifs, strays and others.

For such a long holiday it heralds 3 days of Christmas decorating Friday through Sunday for yours
truly and with the forecast of snow no doubt some fun time up the ladder. However, it is Brenda’s
birthday on the Sunday so my adorning all things bright and beautiful will terminate circa lunchtime.

So, back in the 1600’s Chris Jones gets a call from the Pilgrims who want to charter his boat, The
Mayflower, and another vessel, Speedwell, and try for a one way charter across the Atlantic. It doesn’t
go too well to start with as Speedwell leaks like a sieve and they have to put into harbor to caulk it up.
Off they go again but the leaky boat is still taking on water. Finally they transfer all the goodies
including the Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup onto Mayflower and she sets sail in
September from Plymouth with 102 passengers.

66 days later they arrive averaging about 2 mph for the crossing with their 180 tun ship. Like many,
you probably think there was a typing error or I slipped into “Odle Worlde English” but, No ! Tonnage,
the ton, or 20 x The hundredweight of 112 lbs had not yet been the yardstick for nautical
measurements but referred to a bloody great barrel called a “Tun“. At the same time other beer and
wine measurements included the “Firkin” and may have given rise to the expression
“It weighs a Firkin Tun !”

The large cask is called a “Tun“…….and it is firkin heavy !

The “Firkin” beer barrel

Anyhoooo, the Mayflower was rated at 180 tuns which it could carry in the cargo hold so it was no
doubt a pretty sizeable boat. After the “Land Ho!” cries and joy of finding something after 66 days at
sea they discovered that they weren’t where they wanted to be and set off south again as they were
getting desperately short on their main drinking fluid, namely beer. This didn’t work out too well so
they came back and decided on the new Plymouth.

“Land Ho !”

But we need more BEER !

” Look, Jones, I’m telling you WE are Here, and we paid to go There!”

OK then, Virginia here we come……

………or not, lets go back to Cape Cod

So, after the aborted trip to Virginia to find more beer they had another meeting and decided on the
name of their new colony. Not very original perhaps?

Their small boat is launched and Mary Chilton will be the first to get off. She of course is wearing
the standard ladies dress of the day so they make their way to a rock on the beach to serve as her
landing platform as she doesn’t want all her petticoats getting wet. She has her speech suitably
rehearsed but from legend and the fast emptying barrels of beer it seems some of the words may
have been misquoted.

“Are you ready Mary ?”

“Thanks to the skirt, ..this is one small step for a woman, and one Firkin
giant leap for mankind”

Being a religious bunch they were able to adapt the 10 Commandments so after stumbling about
on the beach and following footprints in the sand they found some baskets of corn buried in the
sand in what a farmer would call a “clamp”. Did it never occur to this group of religious men that it
didn’t get there of its own accord? and surely the baskets might have been a clue that it belonged to somebody?……… but NO! this was PROVIDENCE and provided by the Lord. Back in the UK if you
had done this you would have been HANGED.

Nice try ! but it is stealing!!

“We didn’t know it was YOUR turkey, and the unwanted corn we just
buried up on that hill”

A little later they found a fresh water spring which must have been a wonderful discovery and also
no doubt pissed off the former owners of the corn they had stolen who also owned the spring . Back
then and for the journey they had been drinking wine and beer in lieu of water as water of the day
was full of parasites.

The first winter was harsh in New England and by spring about half of the pilgrims had died leaving
just four women and a few teenage girls. By September some of the settlers seeds and the stolen
corn had been collected and then they had a three day Harvest Festival to celebrate their survival all
cooked by the four remaining women. This has been moved to its current position on the calendar by
Abe Lincoln and FDR’s government and not by factual events.

Had it not been for the indigenous native American Indians who were both farmers, fishermen and
hunters it would seem likely that all our pilgrims would have perished the following year when their
crops failed. Presumably after a large slice of humble pie, our early settlers learnt the skills of using
fish manure to increase the yield of their crops from their Indian friends and also learnt to fish for the abundance of lobsters (you lucky, lucky bastards!) clams, herring and of course cod.

Very soon other ships with settlers arrived bringing all manner of things including the covered
wagon which went on to be the start of Cruise America as we know it today.

Early RV’ing with Cruise America

……..and so, I await the bounty of the day, as the non cook for this festive occasion, and I know I shall
enjoy all that is presented for my gastronomic pleasure, but I’m still confused as to why I need to go shopping at 0200 on Friday morning??

Not sure about this new religion but they get a good congregation

Jones and his crew sailed back to Blighty in April 1621 and the Master passed away the following
year. Mayflower never did much thereafter and was broken up and sold for scrap in 1624.

Sold for scrap 1624

Well the away team have plundered all the goodies, the fire is lit and the bird suitably ready. Plenty of
beer is available so now time to sit back and see who comes a’knocking ?


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