Americana

25 Turkey’s Just in Time for Thanksgiving.

With Thanksgiving just two days away, I thought I’d post a little something about Turkey’s since they are the food of choice on Thanksgiving day.

Patriot-Turkey

Today most of us go to the supermarket, and grab a Turkey from the meat counter without giving much thought to the bird we are about to consume. The reality is in the last 70 years the poultry industry has changed dramatically. At the end of the 1940’s Turkey breeding intensified in the United States with a focus on birds that produced more white meat. This was done to meet growing demand and produce turkey’s that had a consistent flavor and yield. As a result, the predominant breed sold in markets today is the Broad Breasted White whose light to dark ratio is 65% white meat to 45% dark. Broad Breasted White’s can grow to outrageous sizes topping out at almost 50 pounds. By contrast, heritage, and wild turkey’s max out at about 25 to 30.

Over the last decade there has been a renewed fascination with artisanal breeds,  and farmers are now producing more expensive heritage breed turkeys like the Narragansett, Bourbon Red, and Royal Palm. If you want a heritage turkey for dinner this Thanksgiving you can find one in your state by searching here.

Along with all that turkey eating info, I thought I’d also post a number of Turkey themed Thanksgiving postcards. All of these images are 72ppi and medium-sized for loads of Thanksgiving posting. They have been culled from public domain websites and for the most part cropped. As I was gathering these up, a couple of things occurred to me. First off around 1900 to 1910 There was a huge fascination with turkey’s and children. Kids riding on them, trying to capture them, being pulled in wagons by them. There was also a very patriotic theme that ran with the turkey and Thanksgiving. I know it is an American holiday, but there are tons of images of turkeys with Uncle Sam and American flags. Maybe that has something to do with Ben Franklin nominating it as our national bird.

So behold, 25 Turkey/Thanksgiving images from roughly 110 years ago. All of them boldly  illustrated, engraved, and filled with turkeytude.

Turkey-1 Turkey-2 Turkey-3 Turkey-4 Turkey-5 Turkey-6 Turkey-7 Turkey-8 Turkey-9 Turkey-10 Turkey-11 Turkey-12 Turkey-13 Turkey-15 Turkey-16 Turkey-17 Turkey-18 Turkey-19 Turkey-20 Turkey-21 Turkey-22 Turkey-23 Turkey-24 Turkey-25

Who is Uncle Sam?

Uncle Sam is one of America’s most familiar icons, but most Americans have little to no idea of his origins. If asked most Americans will probably point to the early 20th century Army recruiting poster, which was actually borrowed from Britain. The final version of Uncle Sam that we are most familiar with today, came about in 1917. The famous “I Want You” recruiting poster by James Montgomery Flagg set the image of Uncle Sam firmly into American consciousness.

The reality is, that Uncle Sam dates back much further, with beginnings during the colonial period of the United States.

The actual figure of Uncle Sam, dates from the War of 1812 where the setting was ripe for a national icon. Before the War of 1812 most icons had been geographically specific with most centered on the New England area. The War of 1812 sparked a renewed interest in national identity which had faded in the years following the revolutionary war.

Like many mythological and symbolic figures, Uncle Sam has origins in actual fact and, in this case, an actual man. Born in Massachusetts, Samuel Wilson settled in the town of Troy, New York. Known locally as “Uncle” Sam, he would be the impetus for a regional saying which would eventually become a national icon.

Sam Wilson moved to Troy New York with his brother, Ebenezer, in the late 1700’s where they established a meat packing business. E. & S. Wilson acquired contracts for the U.S. Army as meat suppliers in 1812. The contract stated that all supplies be stamped with the manufacturers name and point of origin. Troy residents associated the “U.S.” on the sides of the barrels of troop rations with “Uncle Sam” — who they all knew was feeding the army.

The connection between this local saying and the national legend is not easily traced. As early as 1830, there were inquiries into the origin of the term “Uncle Sam,” which first appeared in print in 1813. The connection between the popular cartoon figure and Samuel Wilson of Troy, NY was reported in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1830, and later confirmed by Samuel Wilson’s great- and great-great-nephews.

By the early twentieth century, there was little physical resemblance left between Samuel Wilson and Uncle Sam. As a symbol of an ever-changing nation, Uncle Sam had gone through many incarnations. Initially cartoon versions of Sam were very familiar to those of Brother Jonathan. The Civil War saw a major transition in the development of Uncle Sam as his image was associated with that of Abraham Lincoln. It was during this period that Sam aged and acquired a beard.

Although there continue to be numerous variations on the image of Uncle Sam, the Flagg version from 1917 is now considered to be the go to standard from which all others deviate.

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Faded Glory, The Sign Painter Series by Photographer Jay B Sauceda.

I know I have mentioned this before, but years ago when I worked at Gannet Outdoor, I was blown away by the craftsmen that hand-painted billboards. This was at the end of an era when computer design was in its infancy. I’ll never forget the first time we received a billboard that had been printed on a Cactus printer and shipped to us. The sign painters scoffed at the quality and truly believed that it would never supplant their skill set. I simply remember thinking that’s it, they’re done. I know it was a crappy thing to think, but I was right. Here we are 20 years later and the skill-set that those men had, the one I was in awe of is all but forgotten.

The images below, by Texas photographer, Jay B Sauceda, brought back the feelings of admiration that I had for the guys that worked with me at Gannett. The Photos are spectacular and capture more than the lost craft of sign painting. In many ways they also represent that faded glory of time past. They are like a visual time capsule.

“Before there was vinyl printing there were big brick walls and craftsmen who covered said walls with their commercial artwork. This is my ever growing collection of those that I find while on the road.”  Jay B Sauceda