1942 Thanksgiving with the Landis family, Neffsville, Penn.

landis neffsville thanksgivingFlash back to 1942 — and let’s take a look at how the family of Mr. and Mrs. Earle Landis of Neffsville, Pennsylvania celebrated Thanksgiving. These wonderful photographs, taken by Marjory Collins, are part of the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information’s collection, which captures an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. The Landis’ kitchen for sure is not fancy — but that turkey is big, the pies look scrumptions, there is homemade ice cream (!), and everyone looks very grateful, indeed. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Kate and I will be back Monday. xoxo

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  1. Ben says

    And, just like those celebrating in 1942, take a moment to remember those who won’t be able to visit their friends or families for the holiday.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  2. Puddletown Cheryl says

    Happy Thanksgiving to the RetroRenovation family. I hope everyone reaches their destination and return home safely.

  3. Jay says

    Yes it’s certainly a time to reflect and think of all the good things we have been blessed with – family and RR and its’ loyal followers. Happy Thanksgiving all!

  4. Mary Elizabeth says

    I want to add my good wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Chanukah to those who are celebrating the Festival of Lights.

    Some things I noticed about the Landis kitchen:

    To protect the wallpaper behind the stove (which wasn’t scrubable vinyl in those days), they had obviously tacked up a printed oilcloth tablecloth. Very resourceful!

    Not all of the dishes matched. I saw a piece of some Johnson Brothers pattern and what looks like Franciscan’s Apple. I couldn’t identify the others. Anyone? But who needs a matched set of dishes? They had just come off the Depression and were grateful to have dishes at all. And the food looked good.

    How about those thick Depression ware tumblers? They were probably red or cobalt.

    The young child had a tray to keep his food off the tablecloth.

    I loved the bay window in the dining room with the winter light coming through.

    When they went for a walk, they passed Christmas trees in various stages of growth. Either they grew their own Christmas trees, or they had a Christmas tree farm, like my grandfather did at one point during the war. It makes me remember what it was like to be thinking of Christmas and making plans as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over.

    Drive sober and safe home, everyone.

    • Diane in CO says

      And, did you notice what appears to be a big bouquet of blooming rhododendrons (!) in the center of the table?

      These photos were quite delightful, Pam and Kate! Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

      • Pat in Pa says

        I grew up near this area, and one reader mentioned about the “rhododendrons in the middle of the table”. This would have to be a spring meal to have those fresh flowers, unless they were able to get them from a florist. Definitely not a fall flower in PA! But I did so enjoy looking at these pics–I love the mother’s dress with the pearls, and what a great idea using one of those metal trays under the boy’s plate!!

  5. JKM says

    Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is able to spend time with family or friends and create memories like those in the photographs were creating in 1942. The little boy in the photos would be in his mid-seventies by now – about the age of my dad. I’m sure he has good memories of those days and the loved ones with him that day.

    Funny how some things don’t change – In the 1960′s, we were taking turns sitting on top of the ice cream freezer like the little boy in 1942!

    • Robin, NV says

      I’ve been reflecting lately that life from about 1925-1980 was relatively unchanged. Fashions came and went but the way in which we went about life was essentially the same. I was born in the 70s and, when I think about it, my upbringing wasn’t terribly different from my mom’s upbringing in the 50s. Things really started to change in the 80s with computers and, later, cell phones. Now I look at young people and think “they are truly from a different time.” Nowadays with goods and ideas instaneously available and our lives constantly on fast forward, I cherish the fact that I grew up in a “slower” era. Hopefully we can hang on to some of the old traditions like sitting down to dinner and taking walks.

      Sorry for being so philosophical today – Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Be safe.

      • Nina462 says

        I agree Robin. Growing up in the 60′s-70′s..we had to pay attention at dinner & when company came over. I liked how they all dressed in their ‘Sunday’ best for dinner. I appreciate all the photo’s & could get lost in a cycle of just looking at them all.

  6. June Cahill says

    Beautiful old photos! I have so many my Mom saved for me as a ‘family legacy’ – When I look at them, I’m able to take a trip down ‘memory lane’ and realize as Americans, we’re so blessed to live in this great, free country. To be able to have choices – in almost everything. To be able to speak freely, move about freely to be able to chose and create one’s own path.

    Much to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Jennie Condra says

    I love the after-meal walk. It’s one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving! It makes me remember my grandmother : )

    What was she pulling the pie out with? Is that a special clamp for pie plates?

    Nice pictures!

  8. Nancy says

    Nice pics. Thank you for posting. and only 5 miles from us. even though I’m only 53, I can still relate to these scenes. Happy and safe Thanksgiving, all, be thankful.

  9. Mike S says

    When I was little, the Thanksgiving dinner prep began the day before. My grandmother would leave bread out in a big dish to harden for the stuffing, make pies, and generally get ready for putting then entire dinner together the next day. That was the best part: being there while she cooked, cooked, cooked. Yes, we helped, too. That was fun. And like in the pictures above, we all sat at one table–except when we were too little, we sat around a very old card table (remember those?). Great pics of what looked like a great time. Happy Thanksgiving:)

  10. Mary T says

    Beautiful! Our family had Landis relatives in Pennsylvania. Wonder if Earle and his family could be some of them! That picture helps to illustrate the fact that you don’t need a lot of belongings to be happy. Gratitude is what it’s about.

  11. says

    When my parents were first married in 1952, they were quite poor, and apartments didn’t always come with appliances, so they borrowed an extra stove from my grandmother, and bought a refrigerator “on time”.

    The stove was a “Detroit Jewel” brand from the 20′s, and had no regulator on the oven (just basically “hot” and “warm”) and it used to drive my mom batty. Finally, her father – a lineman with the power company – took pity on her and used his employee discount to buy them a stove (utilities sold appliances in those days)

    My mom and her sisters still laugh about that Detroit Jewel, and what a clunker it was.

    • says

      Your mother just never developed a baker’s hand! My great-great grandmother could apparently throw a pie together in about 5 minutes, bake a perfect cake without a recipe, and stick her hand in the oven and know if the temperature was right. I’d love to be able to do the first two of these, but since I’m not interested in being a domestic servant in a 19th Century house, I probably never will.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Happy Thanksgiving, Dan and Chad! I enjoyed the wonderful stories about Dan’s mother, and Chad’s great-great-grandmother. I think we forget when we drool over mid-century appliances that everyone didn’t have new ones back then. My mom’s stove was more like the one Dan’s mom had, and I remember her putting her hand in the oven to try to guess the temperature. Sometimes our birthday cakes didn’t rise enough, and sometimes they were lopsided because they had risen unevenly.

  12. Chris says

    Pam — these are so cool!

    Can this collection of photos be accessed by the general public? Since our house was built in 1934, I’d love to see the earlier photos.


  13. Anne-Marie Cory says

    I LOVE that you used FSA-OWI pictures. These are such a treasure and really, a very under utilized resource. As usual, your blog is full of delight and surprise. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday! Thanks for all you do.

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