Quill: Thanksgiving past includes late meals, early races

by | Nov 21, 2017 | Blog, Breaking, Features, Top Stories | 2 comments


Maryland tradition: Thanksgiving pie and Pimlico decanter.

by Gary Quill

As a kid growing up in northeast Baltimore, our Thanksgiving Day was much like any other household in the United States. Wake up by 9:00 a.m. to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, go outside for a quick pickup football game in Herring Run Park with whoever may show-up, return home in time to watch the early NFL game from Detroit and then…

Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly like any other.

As I grew older it became apparent to me that my family’s Thanksgiving Day tradition took a small detour from that of most Americans. Most families seemed to start dinner around 3:00pm, give or take an hour, for a big midday meal.

Not so the Quill Family. Our tradition was a little different. We could watch the Dallas Cowboys’ game until about halftime, around 6:00 p.m. That was when my Pop-Pop Quill and great-Uncle Ray would arrive at our house — from a day at the track, and just in time to eat!

That was back in the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. I miss those days… and my Pop-Pop and Uncle Ray, who have long passed. And with their passing, so did the Quill Family Thanksgiving Day tradition.

Until my Dad passed in 2016, we would enjoy a day at the races from time to time. But we never did spend Thanksgiving Day at the track.

The Quill family is now scattered throughout our great country, and over the past 25 years, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been together on Thanksgiving Day. Be thankful if you can spend this Thanksgiving Day with your entire family and think about what tradition is special to you on the fourth Thursday in November.

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Racing-wise, Laurel Park has its own Thanksgiving Day tradition, which started nearly 30 years ago, of giving away either a pumpkin or apple pie (with racing program purchase while supplies last). First race post for the 10-race card is 11:25 a.m.

For those who wish to arrive early to handicap the card, a free donut with coffee or cider will also be available from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. And if you get a call from home telling you they burnt the turkey, invite them to meet you at Laurel for a traditional, home-style Thanksgiving buffet.

As for me, I might check out the races, and remember those long-ago days when Thanksgiving didn’t really start until the day’s racing was complete.

Best of luck and hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!