Faculty Recall Past Thanksgivings at Phillips Academy

As they pack their bags and head home for Thanksgiving, Phillips Academy students can at least be thankful for the length of their break. They now enjoy over a week of relaxation, while in the 1950s students only had Thanksgiving Day free from classes. Edwin Quattlebaum ’61, Instructor in History, said this free day was a treat. Quattlebaum said students were only granted four day excuses per year. A day free of classes was an exciting opportunity to go to Boston or eat with a day student, he said. Quattlebaum continued that during one Thanksgiving, he and his friends traveled to Scollay Square in Boston. After wandering the streets for the better part of the day, Quattlebaum ate spaghetti at a “Papa Gino-type” restaurant. Although this was not his the ideal Thanksgiving dinner, Quattlebaum said he enjoyed the day. Vic Henningsen ’69, Instructor in History, had a longer Thanksgiving break than Quattlebaum during his time as a student. Henningsen, however, wrote in an email to The Phillipian that there was only one day off for Thanksgiving in 1978 and 1990, when he was a house counselor. Henningsen wrote, “[In 1978 and 1990], we organized a big dinner with the kids in the dorm. It was actually quite a lot of fun, since we planned it weeks ahead of time and got the boys to work preparing the food.” He wrote that the meals were comprised of all the classic Thanksgiving dishes but with a dorm dynamic rather than a family one. According to Henningsen, this was a great way to spend Thanksgiving and a great bonding experience for the kids in his dorm. Now, faculty are expected to spend Thanksgiving break working on reports, but also to find adequate time to rest. Ruth Quattlebaum, Instructor in Art History and School Archivist, said that many of the faculty eat with their family and friends during the break because Commons does not serve a Thanksgiving dinner as it did years ago. Quattlebaum added that one popular event for faculty over Thanksgiving is the “Feaster Five” road race in town Thanksgiving morning.