All Things Senior Center--Thanksgiving at the Woodville Rod and Gun Club

punky's picture
Turkeys outside the senior center--just in time for Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving tradition—re-running the column I wrote about Thanksgiving dinner at the Woodville Rod and Gun Club. For those of you who may remember it, I hope you enjoy it all over again. For those of you who have never read it, I hope you enjoy it for the first time.

Gobble! Gobble! It’s that time of year again; the time when people of all races and religions get together to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family alike. It’s a wonderful time of year, when the air is brisk and there’s that possibility of snow falling. It’s a holiday that seems to come too quickly though; right smack in the middle of Halloween and Christmas. When I was a kid, once Halloween was over, the excitement of Thanksgiving took precedent over the long forgotten sack full of candy shoved in the cabinet. It was the sight of that big huge turkey sitting in the middle of the table, watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, getting all dressed up to go over Grandma’s house after dinner for homemade pies and playing with all the cousins. My favorite part of the day was cracking walnuts with my father and brother while my mother got the turkey ready in the kitchen. I don’t even think we ate many of the nuts; it was just the fun of the ‘crackin!’ Nowadays, Christmas seems to overpower the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m not whining too much about it, but there’s a time for that holiday after Thanksgiving. Not before Halloween when the shelves in all the stores are displaying Christmas trees and commercials on TV are already crying out, “Buy this, buy that!” What happened to all the wonderful Thanksgiving decorations that people used to scotch tape to their windows? How about the song, “Over the River and Through the Woods?” Just the other day, I turned on my favorite radio station in the car only to hear Christmas music—and that is going to be continuous 24 hours a day for the next month and a half. I’m not saying that Thanksgiving is a forgotten holiday, because it’s certainly not—it’s one of the biggest family holidays of all. It’s just that it needs more time to itself before Christmas comes rushing in. That’s okay though, all is well; A Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving will be on ABC on Thanksgiving night at 8 pm.

I didn’t get a chance to ask the seniors what their favorite part of Thanksgiving is, but I’m pretty sure that I would have gotten a lot of the same responses such as “the smell of turkey cooking in the oven,” “watching football games,” “cranberry sauce,” “stuffing and gravy,” “pumpkin pies,” “taking a nap after dinner,” “turkey sandwiches later that night,” and of course, one of the most important--“spending the time with my family and friends.”

“Family and Friends”—this brings me to Thanksgiving Day at the Woodville Rod and Gun Club here in Hopkinton on Thursday, November 25 from 12-3 pm. It’s an occasion when all the members of the club donate their money and time to put on a lovely holiday dinner, free of cost to seniors and other residents of the town.

Dennis Smith, former President of the Rod and Gun Club, thought of the idea back in 2001. He had just recently lost his mother and thought it would be nice to have a place to go for Thanksgiving where he could spend the day with other people. He said the main reason though, was to “give something back to the community so they wouldn’t think we were a bunch of gun totin’ people.” He put the idea on the floor to the 40 members and they all approved it unanimously, with each member also volunteering to donate their time.

It didn’t take long to get this program rolling. Dennis called Cindy Chesmore, Director of the Senior Center and asked if she thought there was a need for something like this. She said it would be a wonderful idea. As the word spread, so did the donations and offers to help. Dennis said that the first year, there were about 20-25 people attending the dinner and it has grown to many more since then. Dennis was the cook during that time, assisted by his brother Walter. Dennis’ specialty was pickled beets. He said a woman came up to him one year and asked how he made them because her kids wouldn’t eat hers, but loved his!

Members Karen Remillard and Kim Clark have been volunteering their time for this special dinner for the past six years. Karen said each member has a certain job in one of their “crews.” They have the Prep Crew—those who get everything ready such as setting the tables, decorations, etc. They have a Cooking Crew—those who get the food prepared. Karen’s husband, Frenchie, will do most of the cooking, assisted by other members. There’s the Serving Crew—the members who will serve the food to all the guests, and then there’s the Clean-Up Crew—the members who donate their time after the meal to make sure the hall is spic and span. Even the kids of the members volunteer to help out. That’s a lot of work done by a lot of wonderful people and everyone who attends is so thankful and appreciative!

People always ask, “How many turkeys DO they cook?” Depending on the weight, Karen said it could be about 10 of them averaging around 20-24 pounds each. They’re all cooked right there at the Club, the night before. The vegetables are all cooked fresh on Thanksgiving morning; potatoes mashed, gravy made, etc.

The doors of the Club open at 11am; people are seated as they arrive and may have coffee and tea while enjoying the company of the people around them. The members start serving dinner at 12pm, all family style, and will continue serving until the last person leaves about 3 pm. Karen and Kim said the busiest time is from 12-1, but there’s not usually a wait. People are also encouraged to sit, relax, and enjoy the good food and company as long as they want; there’s no rushing on this day! The desserts are usually homemade pies that are also donated.

Dennis said that the dinner is “not just for seniors.” He also wanted to make it clear it’s also not just for needy people. There are people who just want to come and enjoy the social part of the day with old friends. My parents are among those; they love spending the afternoon with their “people.” There are even whole families who come—the parents, their children, grandparents, etc. There’s lots of “regulars” who look forward to it each year. You don’t even have to be a Hopkinton resident—sometimes a family member or friend will be visiting from out of town; they’re always welcome too. He said, “No one is turned away!” (Dennis has since passed away).

As for the funding of this dinner—people may make monetary donations, as well as food donations, such as the vegetables, which come from the Pratt family. Turkeys may also be donated, but a lot of the food is purchased with the assistance of the Club members. Everything else is paid for by the Club’s General Fund. If you’d like to make a contribution, donations are always welcome.

George Robinson, the van driver for the Senior Center, is a big part of this program also. He donates his time during the day by picking up seniors and bringing them to the Club for dinner. He’ll also deliver meals to the local shut-ins, as well as to the police and fire departments. Thanks to George, many people who cannot make it to Woodville because of transportation or health problems may now enjoy a nice holiday meal.

If you have any questions, you may call Kim Clark at the Club—508/435-4148. Also, please call the Hopkinton Senior Center to make your reservations—508/497-9730.

A huge thank you to goes out to all the members of the Woodville Rod and Gun Club for making this day possible for so many people. It’s the generosity of people like them who show what the spirit of the holiday season is all about!

In the words of Mary McLeod, Outreach Supervisor of the Senior Center, “It’s a day where families and friends may enjoy the community spirit of coming together for Thanksgiving Dinner.”

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! May you enjoy a wonderful day whether it be at the Woodville Rod and Gun Club or not. It’s all about family and friends. Oh, and of course, the stuffing and gravy!

Remember to watch the HCAM News Show on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 pm! Channel 8 for Comcast and Channel 30 for Verizon.

1 comment for 'All Things Senior Center--Thanksgiving at the Woodville Rod and Gun Club'

michelle's picture

Nice article Punky! I enjoyed reading it.