Thanksgiving 1967 sticks in my mind. I was almost 9 years old and we'd made it through the Detroit riots unscathed, having moved out of our house for most of the summer and in with friends across town. As a single parent, my mom didn't like leaving us home with a young (late teens) babysitter while she went to work evenings in a restaurant. Even after the official riots were over, things simmered for months and you never knew where trouble would break out. Things were pretty quiet in our neighborhood but just a couple miles away buildings had been burned and looted.
We moved in with another single mom and her kids and went from having plenty of space and a nice yard, to living in a 2 bedroom trailer and no yard, right next to a busy street. The oldest of the 7 kids was 12, the youngest 3. Both moms worked the 2-10 p.m. shift but it was half a block away and we were expected to behave ourselves without benefit of a sitter.
It was with this same family that we celebrated Thanksgiving that year. Having moved back home when school started in September, my sister and I were excited to be reunited with our 'summer' family for Thanksgiving. The nine of us, plus some of their extended family, crammed into the tiny dining room in the trailer. With all that body heat in such a small space and the oven going full blast, it got so hot we had to open the windows even though it was a typical cold November day in Michigan!
I'm sure we had a traditional turkey dinner, but I don't really remember the food. What I remember was how much fun we had playing in and around the trailer. I remember how the youngest stripped down to his underwear during the meal and no one thought it odd (except me). I remember there was lots of laughter and the feeling of being cocooned in that tiny trailer. The wind whipped outside, scattering the few leaves left on the trees, but inside it was warm and cozy.
As a child I didn't fully understand what transpired that summer, but sensed my mom's uneasiness and a feeling I recognize now as fear. In 1968 we moved back to Kentucky for a few months and I think it was a coping mechanism on her part. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for her to contend with raising two kids on her own during that scary time.
But that Thanksgiving all felt right with our world and the 'warm fuzzies' from that day will be with me always.