Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues


          Thanksgiving nears, an iconic time for family and all such traditions supposedly held dear. It was the occasion of another Big Lie many years ago which manifested three quarters of a century later as a demon of our generation—the demon of tobacco, which any thinking person at that time knew to be a killer. But thinking people being ever in short supply, and the ones who did think being also short of power, the capitalist profiteers of the day made the bed in which millions would die painful and untimely deaths. My family so suffered and so did yours in all likelihood.

          The power of big tobacco was so great that many thought it would be the last of tyrannies to fall, if ever. So who was behind the real killer-weed? Its name is Legion, as the Good Book says, because it is many. Best to laser in on one of those many so we can see how times have changed.

          It was when Henry Luce bought the venerable Life Magazine and launched his maiden issue in November of 1936 in which Food Editor Dorothy Malone showed how best to purvey Thanksgiving dinner for both family and friends.

          She spoke of the classic turkey and all the fixin’s of said meal. But each was given rather short shrift, save for one constant: Camel Cigarettes. With an array of pictures Malone showed how to offer them the moment guests darkened the door, after the first course, between the expected first and second helpings of the Bird, following the Waldorf Salad, and as top-off to dessert and coffee for an end to a perfect day.

          And she had good reasons: cigarettes, she said, were aids to digestion, to clear the palate, increase alkalinity and add good cheer to the occasion. Said Malone, “It’s smart to have Camels on the table (for) a sense of digestive well-being.” Sadly, she never used the words “cancer-sticks,” but that’s what they were. It would take decades before leaked documents told the truth, including how Joe Camel became the go-to symbol for a new generation that was to embrace a deadly practice that evolved, thanks to the down-played ingredients, into their social habit, along with an older generation that should have known better.

          Thus the Turkey Day of that earlier time was a raw deal and not the kind of impression from Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post cover that said, sans words, that God was in his heaven and all was right with our blessings–aside from the hidden horrors of a certain aromatic weed.

          I use the word “weed” because it most often refers to marijuana, the thing that hundreds of thousands went to jail for selling, using or even being around and was thereby a threat to–you guessed it–Big Tobacco. Along with more potent substances, it was deemed a “drug,” while alcohol, also a drug, escaped notoriety—though its cost to society is more than all other drugs put together; hence the misleading phrase of the time, “alcohol ‘and’ drugs.” Among the heroes of all such consumption were rock stars, who were aware that their millions of adorers knew and modeled their drug-infused life-styles. They too are overlooked when assigning shame and blame for that tragic toll; but, hey, they’re musicians!—and idols!

          So what’s on and around your table this Thanksgiving? Betwixt spoonfuls, you may be treated to the wisdom of Trump Nation guests, willing to ruin everyone’s good time, not to mention digestion, with tales of a prior stolen election and the paybacks to be visited on both friend and foe.

          Be advised that your turkey may be another raw deal for the occasion.

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