A Southern California Thanksgiving, 1906

Anaheim Public Library via the Online Archive of California

Why is this family eating outside on Thanksgiving, you might ask.  Late November can be hot in Southern California, as the Santa Ana winds sweep in from the desert.  As I write on this Thanksgiving over 100 years later, the same winds are blowing and the temperature is projected to reach into the 80s.

None of the women felt the need for jackets in this photo of the William Webb family celebrating Thanksgiving in Anaheim in 1906.  Today Anaheim is home to Disneyland and there isn’t much green space left, but even in my youth there were still orchards and farmland.  You can see what might be the beginning of an orchard in the background to the right.  The dinner might have included house and field staff. Do you think the turkey in the foreground could have fed them all?

As far as I can tell, all of the women might be wearing the popular skirt and shirtwaist combination of the era.  You can see that the style allowed for a lot of variation, with different colored shirts and even prints to liven things up.  The two oldest women sit at the front of the table.  As is often the case, their clothes are not quite up to date.  Their upper sleeves are very full, in the style of the previous decade.  I can almost hear them saying, “This is my best outfit and I’m going to wear it today.”

May you also wear what makes you happy on this festive day. 

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