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Archive Visit 8: Keep an eye on the Silver & Don’t Worry about Boys. Advice for Turkey Dinner or Advice for life?

Cassie Bendel

Posted on November 29 2020

Archive Visit 8: Keep an eye on the Silver & Don’t Worry about Boys. Advice for Turkey Dinner or Advice for life?

Who’s ready for leftovers? We’re not ready to leave Turkey Dinner behind just yet. So, this week we thought we’d offer a second helping of Turkey Dinner history. This time, we’re focusing an extremely meticulously written order of events to the girls who served dinner that can be taken as good advice for Turkey Dinner… and maybe even for life?

                This undated six-page missive outlines the events of Turkey Supper day as well as what volunteers should do and how they are expected to behave. If you remember hearing this read aloud, it might make you sit up a little straighter. If you don’t remember, there are still some points that might take you back in time. I’ll summarize as best I can…

                Lecture with reference to Turkey Supper

I’m here to tell you exactly what to do on Thursday and where to do it and where to go. The Turkey Supper is new to some of you and you must pay very close attention.

The tradition of doing something for the poor and needy dates back in Mount history to the days immediately following the Civil War when the girls participated in a large bazaar in town at a place called Washington Hall. This was a benefit given for the orphans and widows of Civil War soldiers in 1866. Since then almost every year has seen some form of charitable enterprise being undertaken by Mount girls and faculty for the poor…

We naturally expect wholehearted cooperation from each of you. If one falls down on her job – no matter what it is – all the others are indirectly affected. You may not be where you’d like to be or with whom you’d like to be, but you will be where you’re needed.

Try to be big enough to put the success of the Turkey Supper above the thoughts of your own personal convenience. That’s the only way to have success in any enterprise where cooperation is required. If each one does her own little part, the whole thing will work out splendidly.

Remember that the Turkey Supper is one time in the year when you are placed before the public without a Sister with you. Everything you do reflects upon the reputation of the school. Therefore, in placing you girls in complete charge of the Turkey Supper, Mount de Chantal is putting her reputation into your hands – which is the greatest honor and mark of confidence that the Sisters can give you.

There is no adult in the dining room. The responsibility for the success of the turkey supper rests mainly with the servers at the individual tables – not on the group as a whole. The individual girl at a table is the one the guests notice most, and all will be praised or blamed because of her actions…

Be courteous no matter what happens or what someone might say. Try to be pleasant and cheerful looking. Remember to offer your fatigue and weariness in thanksgiving for all the benefits you have received during the past year. While waiting, don’t lean on the serving tables or against the wall. Never leave your table – stick to it to the last…

You may not eat with your family or friends. If you family has a ticket and insists, you must be courteous; they must come to your table and you must rise to do all the serving. No one can stop to serve you while you are eating – briefly, don’t do it! You may not leave until after supper is over…

Do not accept tips. Remember, your service is free and given for God in charity. If one should be left, hand it in to Sister in charge of Turkey Supper.

Keep your eyes open so that people do not take away souvenirs of silver, etc. These items are expensive.

Act your age; do not be silly over boys. Never leave your table to congregate around a table with Linsly or College boys, etc. People comment unfavorably on such “boy crazy” actions…

Be sure to keep your voice down. Do not call to another girl from a distance. The dining room and playroom get noisy enough and warm enough as it is without the servers adding to the confusion by forgetting their dignity and manners.

Remember to smile and be gracious and courteous when anything is said to you, no matter how tired you may become. By being well-mannered, low-voiced, not rushing around heedlessly and needlessly, observing IN and OUT signs faithfully, there should be no accidents and guests will receive good service.

Do you remember which Sister wrote this? If so, we’d love to hear about it and all of your Turkey Dinner memories on our Facebook page!

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