Rebecca Yerger, Napa County's Memory Lane: The turkey raffle controversy — and other events of November 1909 – Napa Valley Register

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November 1909 found Napa County residents busy with not only daily living but also beginning the preparations for the upcoming holiday season. The newspapers of the day were filled with stories about autumnal celebrations, among other things.
The first hint of the 1909 holidays to come was an article, dated Nov. 3, about a Napa City Council meeting and turkey raffles. The Napa Daily Journal reported a proposed new ordinance would prohibit livestock drives, domestic animals trespassing on private property and turkey raffles within the Napa city limits.
Local attorney J.T. York, on behalf of his client M. Schwartz, requested the council amend the ordinance to allow for the continuation of turkey raffles. York stated that for years Schwartz had held holiday turkey raffles in his Main Street cigar shop. York went on at great length about how those raffles benefited local farmers and downtown Napa merchants. Apparently, York managed to sway the council to protect that tradition as they voted to allow turkey raffles to continue within Napa city. 
While Schwartz prepared for his annual turkey raffle, local groups were gearing up for their annual autumnal events. One such group was the Ladies Guild of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. They were preparing for their annual gifts fair.
Similar to Community Project’s Fancy Fair, the St. Mary’s Ladies Guild had booths filled with handmade crafts and foods. The 1909 fair also featured a dance and a comedy farce performed by locals. According to the Journal, “the affair was a social and financial success.” 
About two weeks later, another fair was held by the Ladies Guild of Napa’s Baptist church. “The New England dinner served…was pronounced as excellent.” The Nov. 19 Journal reported. “Booths with their fancy articles of every kind did a rushing business and many were the gifts purchased to gladden the hearts of little ones on Christmas.”
Within that same Journal edition, advertisements from local businesses highlighted their Thanksgiving merchandise. For instance, Winship, Beard and Company, a department store once located in the Behlow building at Brown between First and Second streets, offered dishware to foodstuffs.
“For Thanksgiving Dinner: Turkey – We have a hundred Berryessa Valley grain fed birds engaged and are taking orders for them now. Chestnuts – For stuffing. Genuine Italian nuts at 2-lbs, for 35-cents; Newtown Pippin Apples, Fancy 4 tier stock. $1.25 Box…” said the 1909 advertisement. 
By mid-November all the local merchants focused on Thanksgiving in their advertising, including furniture stores. Treadway and Company, located on Main Street in downtown Napa, advertised hand-crafted birds-eye maple dining tables for sale. 
While many local residents were preparing for their own Thanksgiving Day celebrations, other locals were working on commercial and community-wide events. Local restaurants were inviting the culinary challenged to their establishments for Thanksgiving Day dinner.
The Star Restaurant at 105 S. Main St. promised a “splendid” six-course holiday meal. The menu included creamy tomato soup, fried oysters with shoe string potatoes, roasted turkey with cranberry sauce, pies and more, all for 50 cents. 
The Star restaurant advertised no reservations would be taken. However, other local eateries encouraged reservations, including the Modern Cafe. Their menu of course featured the requisite turkey. But they did offer different courses, such as mock turtle soup, all for 50 cents. 
As those kitchens were bustling with activity, two local organizations were busy with holiday event plans for “Thanksgiving Eve,” as the Journal wrote, The Native Daughters of the Golden West hosted a dance on Nov. 24. While a notice of the upcoming event was posted in the newspapers, the Journal printed no follow-up story about it.
However, the Journal did report on the Hermann Sons Masquerade Ball held at the Armory Hall. The Journal wrote, the event “…was all that could be desired in point of social enjoyment. The hall was filled with maskers, all bent on making merry. There was the beautiful, the grotesque, the sublime and the ridiculous, all mingled in an assemblage of many colors.” 
With an admission price of 75 cents per couple, the evening included live orchestra music, a buffet of refreshments and four grand prizes for the best costumes. The festivities “continued until a late hour of the morning and all had a most enjoyable time,” wrote the Journal.
With feet rested and stomachs filled with Thanksgiving dinners, locals had even more to enjoy during November 1909. The following day Mother Nature had a surprise in store for all Napa County residents. “Moon Eclipsed,” read a Nov. 27 Journal headline. For about an hour, 11:01 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26 to 12:03 a.m., Saturday Nov. 27, the moon was in total eclipse.
The Journal described that celestial sight at length: “The moon took on a beautiful pink tint, during which at the height of this colorful period, the light and dark silhouettes of the lunar tracts and the crater Tycho were seen without the aid of a magnifying glass.” 
Today the autumn is overflowing with events and every type of opportunity to fill one’s calendar. Apparently, based on the newspaper accounts from days gone by, residents of Napa County more than 100 years ago also enjoyed an event-filled November.
Have you ever wonder why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day? Well, here are a few reasons why.
The Napa Valley Turkey Chase’s fundraising run drew more than 1,100 participants for the 5- and 10-kilometer races on Thanksgiving Day 2019. This year’s event has been converted to a virtual format due to county physical distancing rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pumpkin-orange medals awaited those who reached the finish line Thursday morning at the Napa Valley Turkey Chase, which featured courses of 5 and 10 kilometers.
The turkey hat sported by Justin Godey of Napa was one of numerous examples of Thanksgiving-themed headgear, T-shirts, socks and apparel to appear in Thursday’s seventh annual Napa Valley Turkey Chase, which attracted more than 1,000 runners despite near-freezing conditions shortly before the 8 a.m. start.
Headgear such as knit caps topped with drumstick headbands combined warmth against frosty morning conditions with a playful tribute to Thanksgiving for runners taking part in the annual Napa Valley Turkey Chase, which featured 10- and 5-kilometer runs as well as a children’s sprint.
The race course for Thursday’s Napa Valley Turkey Chase run took competitors down a section of the Vine Trail overlooking the Napa River, with Imola Avenue and the Maxwell Bridge in the distance.
Toni McIntosh has donned a turkey suit at every Napa Turkey Chase since the race’s 2013 inception, guiding participants in the 10- and 5-kilometer runs staged in south Napa on Thanksgiving morning.
Despite an overnight chill that sent temperatures into the 30s and coated the grass with frost, tutus, turkey-shaped headgear and other playful apparel were popular among more than 1,000 participants in Napa’s Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving morning.
Jackie Reynolds of Napa Valley Total Fitness leads runners through pop music-driven warmups and stretching Thanksgiving morning, minutes before the start of the fifth annual Turkey Chase 10-kilometer run at Napa Valley College.
Toni McIntosh, a Napa Police youth services program coordinator, took on the persona of Giblet the Turkey to greet runners and children at the annual Turkey Chase 10- and 5-kilometer run at Napa Valley College.
Amaury Avalos (right), 24, of St. Helena was joined by her sister Adriana, 22 (left) and their mother Rocio, 54, forthe annual Turkey Chase run Thanksgiving morning, with the siblings donning humorous headgear for the occasion.
In a field with many runners sporting turkey-styled caps or costumes, Mitch Gunderson of Napa showed up at the Turkey Chase race at Napa Valley College costumed as a giant bacon strip.
Jackie Reynolds of Napa Valley Total Fitness leads runners through pop music-driven warmups and stretching Thanksgiving morning, minutes before the start of the fifth annual Turkey Chase 10-kilometer run at Napa Valley College.
Racks of medals were prepared for more than 1,400 people who entered Thursday’s annual Turkey Chase, which included 10- and 5-kilometer runs as well as a 100-meter Turkey Dash for children.
Toni McIntosh, costumed as Giblet the Turkey, poses with two children who took part in the 100-meter Turkey Dash that preceded Thursday’s Turkey Chase race at Napa Valley College.
Children in the Napa Turkey Chase’s field of more than 1,400 people traveled the course in carriages, on parents’ shoulders or on their own feet during the event Thanksgiving morning.
Three children pose with their medals after finishing the 100-meter Turkey Dash during the annual Turkey Chase event Thanksgiving morning in Napa.
Medals await the finishers of the Napa Valley Turkey Trot 5K and Mile at Napa Valley College on Saturday morning.
Eric Hankinson, left, and Vern Mitzel, wear turkey hats as they wait for the start of the Turkey Trot 5k and Mile at Napa Valley College on Saturday morning.
Leanne Duden, left, and Kelly Lawrence, right, run wearing turkey hats at the start of the Napa Valley Turkey Trot 5K and Mile at Napa Valley College on Saturday morning.
Racers leave the start line at the beginning of the Napa Valley Turkey Trot 5K and Mile at Napa Valley College on Saturday morning.
Tom Sherwood of Napa was one of more than 1,000 people that took part in the Napa Valley Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving morning at Napa Valley College. He was part of a group of family members who wore distinctive headbands for the race.
Rebecca Yerger
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