CSotD: Thanksgiving, Half a Century Ago

Pogo starts us off on Thanksgiving, 1972, with a typically backhanded bit of thankfulness from Porkypine, their opposite characters being a high point of the strip.

I hadn’t remembered that Charles Barsotti, far better known for his New Yorker cartoons, had a strip back then, but this particular episode is also a reminder that Earth Day was still relatively fresh, while this Dad’s Root Beer ad is also a memory-check, since Oregon had passed a law against non-returnables and Vermont was contemplating one.

Alas for Barsotti’s alien, we know how that turned out.


But Americans had other things on their minds, as this John J. Knudsen political cartoon testifies. The Peace Talks in Paris seemed about to bear fruit and a war-weary nation was ready for peace.

Make that two war-weary nations, as Jim Berry pointed out the long road Vietnam had walked to get to that point, starting with the revolt against French rule, or, perhaps, their earlier resistance to Japanese occupation during the war. There were few people in the country old enough to remember peace.


We didn’t know, at the time, that Nixon had torpedoed LBJ’s peace initiative with Hanoi in order to win election and make the grand gesture himself, but, even so, he wasn’t nearly as popular as he had hoped, nor were his wife Pat, his daughters, Julie and Tricia or Julie’s husband, David Eisenhower, and it should be noted that Nixon had begun his national career with an anti-commie smear against an opponent.

No, he didn’t want any left wings anywhere.


As Bill Mauldin points out, Father Theodore Hesburgh had resigned as head of the US Civil Rights Commission after 15 years on the board, and I doubt Mauldin’s choice of words on that sign were an accident: Hesburgh left because he clearly wasn’t what Nixon wanted.


Nor, as this day’s Andy Capp tells us, were newspaper comics doing much to reach out to young, hip readers.


Though their lead characters were willing to protect us from ourselves, even if it made bad people think of them as earnest, pliable yokels.

Well, never mind. There was still a lot of funny in the funny pages, and here’s a holiday sample:

Have a good holiday. There will be time tomorrow for confronting the current world, and time for you, and time for me, and time for the taking of a toast and tea.


Now, in lieu of posting an 18-minute traditional Thanksgiving song — which I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding elsewhere today — here’s an interview I did with the author of that 18-minute traditional Thanksgiving song.

See you tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “CSotD: Thanksgiving, Half a Century Ago

  1. A few years ago I was listening in my car to an old-time radio show (early 1950s? maybe) sponsored by CorningWare (I don’t recall which show). The ads trumpeted CorningWare’s “wonderful” new development — throwaway glass bottles! No need for deposits, no need to return empties to the store — just empty the drinks and then throw the glass away! Think how much more wonderful this will make your life! etc etc

    Fortunately I didn’t drive off the road in sheer outrage. . .

  2. I may have told this story here before, but not in a long time. One day I was in Morning Rounds with an attending physician and a bunch of medical residents. (I’m a hospital librarian.) I mentioned that the upcoming Thanksgiving would be the fiftieth anniversary of the Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. The attending looked at me and said “you do realize that you and I are the only ones who know what you’re talking about?”

    And that’s how I introduced a group of residents, many of whom were not from the US, to the Glorious Tradition of Alice’s Restaurant.

  3. much thanks for the link to your Arlo interview. i enjoyed it. however, i find Arlo’s “once-faddish folkie loses his identity so he kills himself” explanation for Phil’s death far too simplistic and very misguided. suicides are rarely, if ever, defined by merely one factor. Phil’s bipolar disorder (“manic depression” in his era) had plunged him into deep despair as well as alcoholism and substance abuse as early as 1969 (for further details see Rehearsals for Retirement, released that same year).

    and summarizing Phil as a driven anti-war, civil rights protest singer is certainly a wrongful diminishment of – and gross disservice to – the amazing range of his most accomplished career.

  4. @Michael Dooley: Thank you for your comments, both on Phil Ochs’ state[s] of mind, and on his career.

  5. I’ll take the blame if my reporting conveyed the wrong impression of what we were talking about in a much longer conversation necessarily compressed for print.

    Obviously, he never used insulting terms like “faddish” because he was speaking analytically, not in a spirit of cruelty.

    Huntington’s is different than the undiagnosed mental illness that overwhelmed Phil at the John Train point in his life, and there was no attempt to equate the two, only to discuss factors that might have made life more or less bearable.

    But his point — that Ochs was wedded to specific moments — was, as noted, evident as the Anti-War and Civil Rights movements cooled down, while Woody remained Woody regardless.

    However you feel about the artistic differences between Pleasures of the Harbor and either Tape from California or Rehearsals For Retirement, it was clear that Phil was casting about, and his trip to Chile was evidence of that, as was the Gold Jacket phase, which latter I suppose might have been the watershed, though it wasn’t necessarily clear at the time.

    But, just as it is impossible to trace what actually triggers a suicide, it is similarly fruitless to try to differentiate between a loss of creative focus and approaching madness, and the two factors might be mutually destructive rather than one causing the other.

    Anyway, I’m sorry if Arlo’s point was unclear, but that’s on me, not him. After all, he knew both men personally and I didn’t.

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