SM: My folks decided to get divorced. And if you were nice to one, the other one would get mad with you. When October came, I thought, gee, you know, what’s going to happen at Thanksgiving?
So I just thought, well, there must be some other people that are in the same boat. Why should they have that rotten feeling? Why should they be stuck home alone? So, I put an ad in the local paper and offered to cook Thanksgiving dinner for twelve people. People came and they had a good time. And, last year 84 people showed up. What I do is transform the hall at the First Baptist Church to look as close to home as I can get it. I have a fake fireplace. I have Norman Rockwell’s famous Thanksgiving picture framed. And the way I test my success or failure is how long they stay.
Last year, I had a family show up two hours late. He had lost his job and they had heard about the dinner and wanted something to eat. And, some of these people might not have anything, but they always find something that they can be grateful for. My goal is always to have nobody sign up, ’cause that means everybody’s got a place to go and everybody’s okay. And that’s what keeps me going twenty-five years later.