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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Thankful for one Thanksgiving for us all


November 24. 2013 4:44PM

Thanksgiving is this Thursday and people are thinking about why they are thankful this year. Even though the calendar puts this Thanksgiving quite close to Christmas, I am thankful that the Democrats and Republicans are at least celebrating the same holiday.

You hear and read a lot about how divisive and partisan politics are these days, with government shutdowns and nuclear options and the not-ready-for-primetime health care website. But back in 1939 and 1940, the two parties couldn't even agree on Thanksgiving.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was prevailed upon by some merchants to declare the third Thursday in November as Thanksgiving because it would give the stores more time to sell for Christmas. Of course in those days, stores weren't open on Sundays or, as some are now, on Thanksgiving Day itself.

Good grief. The country was split for those two years just like a wished-on wishbone, with some states going along with FDR and some holding out for the fourth Thursday, as Abraham Lincoln had so declared back in the day (at the prodding, incidentally, of a Granite State lady who became a big-time magazine editor.)

I hope President Obama doesn't get wind of any of this or next year we might be back in the same boat.

Speaking of Obama, I'm thankful for my health.

I am also thankful for my high school teachers, one of whom still keeps me on my toes with an occasional call to tell me how good, or bad, the newspaper is handling some issue.

And I am thankful that some folks in Bedford, in looking to tear down the old Wayfarer Motor Inn, hope to preserve a piece of John Goffe's Mill or at least have a plaque commemorating the spot on where it stood and where, centuries later, Dr. George Woodbury had his own version of the mill that had its beginnings before the Revolution.

Woodbury was a Harvard-trained anthropologist who gave up that career to come home to Bedford and restore the mill, and a Stanley Steamer, and write wonderful history books. He also wrote editorials and book reviews for my father's New Hampshire Sunday News and even took obituary dictation in the newsroom on an occasional Saturday evening.

His name was one of two connected with the Sunday News that were in the news last week. The other was Ben Bradlee, whom President Obama honored at the White House with a Medal of Freedom.

Bradlee made his fame as editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate years. But I have clippings of the radio column and front page local stories he wrote in his first newspaper job here in Manchester.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Write to Joe McQuaid at or via Twitter at @deucecrew.

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