my Dad carving the turkey- Nov 26, 2009
Yesterday, while driving to Plymouth, for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, we heard a terrific interview on NPR's Here and Now with Peter Gomes, a well known Baptist preacher and Harvard professor, who like me, grew up in Plymouth. He was the first African-American member of the Pilgrim Society and the Old Colony Club. Gomes got involved with the Pilgrim Society from a young age, despite warnings from his father that the pilgrims were not his people and they don't really like you. One of the best moments of the interview is Rev. Gomes' description of being questioned by president of the Pilgrim Society, Ellis W. Brewster, while working a summer job at the Pilgrim Society front desk. "Are you a member of the Pilgrim Society?" Brewster asked. "No Sir," Gomes replied, expecting to be fired on the spot. "Well we can't have non-members working here," said Brewster reaching into his pocket and handing Gomes a life membership in the Pilgrim Society, which Brewster had signed himself. Gomes went on to become president of the Pilgrim Society which he has been involved with for over 40 years.
Here and Now host, Robin Young and Gomes discussed the parallels between the Pilgrim's escape from oppression, crossing the ocean, entering into the promised land and the Moses story described by Bruce Feiler in his book, America’s Prophet Moses and the American Story. This is a universal human story of escaping oppression, being faithful to God, seeking the promised land, which has many parallels in history including the underground railroad, and the civil rights struggle. Ironically, Moses never actually entered the promised land. The Pilgrims were more fortunate. Although I grew up in Plymouth, and thought I was familiar with pilgrim history, I found this interpretation facsinating.
I get choked up by the Thanksgiving re-broadcast of Robin Young's visit with her now-late uncle, Lachlan McLachlyn Field, to see the migrating snow geese at the Dead Creek refuge in Addison, Vermont. Although we've heard this interveiw each Thanksgiving for many years, I'll never tire of it. Robin's Uncle Lach passed away in 2004 at the age of 91.