by Rick Winterson


To state the obvious, Thanksgiving Day tomorrow (November 22, 2018) will be a day set aside to offer gratitude for our lives in America, along with  all that we have and enjoy.  There never has been (and perhaps never will be) a nation like the United States of America.  On their first Thanksgiving, held in October of 1621, the Pilgrims sensed this about their “New World”, even though they had lost half their number to disease and deprivation, during their voyage on the Mayflower and after they landed here in Plymouth on December 21, 1620.

The first Thanksgiving was really a Harvest Festival.  No cranberries were served – they grew wild back then and the Wampanoag Indians used them only as a folk medicine (loaded with Vitamin C – the Wampanoags knew what they were doing).  It’s also likely that turkey wasn’t on the First Thanksgiving’s menu.  Freshly killed venison was more likely.

But South Boston Online wants to keep this local, so let’s start by considering some local history.  The original South Boston “neighborhood”  was (and in a way, still is) Thomas Park, named for General John Thomas, who was in charge of the colonial troops in and around what was to become South Boston in 1804.  His artillery emplacements on Dorchester Heights drove the British from Boston 242 years ago, on March 17, 1776.  Recapturing Boston was General George Washington’s first specific assignment from the Second Continental Congress.  And it worked!  Look back more than two centuries from where we are now in South Boston.  Be (very) thankful for Gen. Thomas’s cannons and for that victory – Washington’s first – the victory that occurred from the top of Dorchester Heights, and that started it all off around here.

Proceed forward, and think about our geography.  Be thankful for how it was urbanized – of Fort Independence on Castle Island, for a year the home of Edgar Allen Poe; the woolen warehouses along South Boston’s Fort Point Channel during the Civil War; the industries and maritime enterprises that shot up on the South Boston Waterfront after 1900; and the passenger liners and container ships that nowadays bring so many people and so much prosperity to South Boston.  Think for a few moments about the Boston Army Base (once the largest office building in the world), and how a century later, it became something now named “The Innovation and Design Building”.  Give a thought to the South Boston Waterfront developing into the world-class Seaport District, all within the still young 21st Century. And just wait until the expanded Panama Canal begins passing super, mega-Panamax container ships on to Conley Terminal.

Perhaps most of all, think of South Boston as a maritime community.  Were you aware that 80% of South Boston’s border consists of salt water.  We are blessed with miles of beautiful beaches from Sully’s on Castle Island, all along Old Harbor, and ending at Mother’s Rest across from Moakley Field.  The achingly beautiful Harbor Walk, beginning at the old Northern Avenue Bridge, extends much farther.  Be very, very thankful that “Southie Is Our Home Town … “

Be thankful for our many non-profit agencies.  Catholic Charities/United Way will distribute 7,000 Thanksgiving dinners this weekend.  Right now, at St. Monica Hall on Preble Circle, turkey dinners with all the trimmins’ are being prepared for tomorrow – Thanksgiving Thursday, November 22, 10:30 until 1:30.  Anyone and everyone are welcome. The Laboure Center on West Broadway will hold its Annual South Boston House Tours event next weekend on Saturday and Sunday, December 1 and 2.  Take part – it’s a great opener for the South Boston Holiday Season, as is our Christmas Stroll on November 28.  There is so much in South Boston to be thankful for

But most important of all, remember that November is Veterans Month.  Be sure to express your thanks to any veterans you know.  Veterans Day was a high point in this year of Our Lord 2018, because November 11 was the 100th Anniversary and Centennial of the World War I Armistice Day – later to be declared Veterans Day in America.   You know, we can never thank our veterans enough.  But we can certainly try!  Be sure to thank them all tomorrow during your Thanksgiving feast.

And please give a thought to placing some kind of World War I Memorial somewhere here in South Boston. Happy Thanksgiving to you all, from South Boston Online.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast – it’s a uniquely American celebration.