The residents of Lowell celebrating the Thanksgiving of 1918 lived in a time of emotional extremes.
While influenza was raging, there were joyous celebrations that the Great War was over. Headlines just one week apart read, “Great War Is Over - Germany Surrenders. Kaiser Bill Abdicates And Flees To Holland” and “Doctors Need Rest” and “Spanish Influenza again a serious menace.”
The newspaper on November 21 contained tips to prevent the spread of influenza, such as:
‘do all the business you can by phone, don’t mix with others, wash hands frequently and don’t put fingers in nose or mouth. The sentiment was reflected in the advertising. “If ever you deserved a good thanksgiving spread this is the time; and we are ready to serve you with all the essentials, including - turkeys, oysters and some extra nice ducks and chickens. Come early and pick while the picking is good and don’t forget us for the coffee that gives the dinner just the right finishing touch.” White’s Market & Coffee Ranch.
Yet, the residents of Lowell in November of 1918 were also celebrating the end of the war. Influenza did not stop the rejoicing over peace. Sunday evening, November 17th, a ‘goodly’ audience assembled at the Lowell City Hall in answer to a call for a Union Peace Service for all the people, irrespective of church affiliations. The hall was decorated beautifully with flags, including service flags. Rev. Max Lohs played a mandolin solo with such effect that he was heartily encored. Rev. A.H. Lash delivered a rousing victory address and Rev. W.M.P. Jerrett captured the audience with a brilliant war victory and peace address.
The people of Lowell celebrated victory and peace because they knew what war cost. Along the back of the stage were the grim and tragic reminders. Three large cards hung in black, each containing two gold stars and below, the names in large white letters of local men lost in the war: Charles Clark, Mortimer Balcom, Melvin Kingdom, Clarence Roberts, Winfred Alexander and Darwin Dickson.
Since the Lowell churches had closed, the Lowell Ledger printed Rev W.M.P. Jerrett’s Thanksgiving sermon on the front page, with the suggestion that the sermon be read at the family circle following the Thanksgiving feast.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year in whatever form it takes, the Lowell Area Historical Museum wishes you a very Happy Thanksgiving!