November 24, 2010 by Amy Elliott Bragg
A defunct Detroit Thanksgiving tradition
General Friend Palmer writes about a tavern near Grand Circus Park that was for years host to an amazing (or horrific, depending on your perspective) Thanksgiving tradition:
This tavern used to be well patronized by the farmers living near the city and by the general public. It was a grand place for shooting turkeys, geese and chickens Thanksgiving and Christmas. The fowls were securely fastened to a box or something some distance in the rear of the tavern … The crowd would load and fire from the back shed of the tavern, and when the day’s fun was over, they would spend the night in the bar room raffling off the victims of the day.
There were n0 houses beyond the tavern in the direction of the firing, so there was not much danger from a stray bullet.
So the fowl are all tied up for you and ready to go! Shoot your own! It’s like an arcade game. Only it’s real, and at a bar.
General Palmer also fondly remembers fireballs in the street on Fourth of July. Were holidays just really dangerous in Detroit in the old days? Or is my mindset just a product of our lawsuit-addled times? Shooting turkeys out behind the bar doesn’t really seem like the best idea.
Then again … maybe it is.
(Happy Thanksgiving Detroit! We’ll be back next week.)