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Hazard Reacts To Changing the Date of Thanksgiving in 1939

President Franklin Roosevelt had a lot to think about in 1939. The world had been suffering from the Great Depression for a decade and the Second World War had just erupted in Europe. On top of that, the U.S. economy continued to look bleak. So when U.S. retailers begged him to move Thanksgiving up a week to increase the shopping days before Christmas, he agreed. He probably considered it a small change; however, when FDR issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation with the new date, there was an uproar throughout the country.

Perry County Reaction:  Ed Lovern, president of the Hazard & Perry County Chamber of Commerce said:  "The president spoke of too much time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving when he made the decision, but failed to take into consideration that Armistice Day was declared a national holiday by congress last year, and the new date of November 23rd will throw Armistice Day and Thanksgiving only 12 days apart."

“Thanksgiving was celebrated before we had an American government. The day came into prominence before our forefathers fought for independence and should be kept as a sacred day, without any changes. There are some things that cannot be changed without taking something from us that has become a part of our lives.”  L. O. Davis, secretary of the Hazard Chamber of Commerce

“We are creatures of habit and to try and change one as long standing as the Thanksgiving habit, is almost unthinkable. Not that it makes any difference to me personally, but I can hardly conceive of changing Thanksgiving.”  W. W. Reeves, Hazard attorney 

“I ain’t sayin’ nothin'', so don’t quote me.”  Z. Coleman Daniel with the Hazard Gas Company

“I have always been taught that Thanksgiving was a day set aside for the purpose of giving thanks for our many blessings, and not a day to be used commercially for the benefit and convenience of merchants. There are a few things more sacred than making money.”  E. H. McGuire, insurance salesman in Hazard.

“Roosevelt has put the screws to many other things and doing more won’t make much difference."  Dr. J. C. Coldiron, Hazard doctor.

"The last Thursday in November was good enough for the Pilgrims. It should be good enough for Rube. It would be hard to find anyone in favor of the change.”  R. L. Gordon, head of the Kentucky and West Virginia Power Company in Hazard.

“There are arguments for and against the change. Football managers and fans should be given some serious consideration and the change not made upon such short notice.”  W. M Ribble, an employee of the power company.

“Roosevelt has changed everything but the Ten Commandments so why not let him change Thanksgiving. Seriously speaking, I think that the change should never be made without giving at least a years notice. Then there is serious doubt about the advisability of making the change."  W. A. Stanfill, Hazard attorney.

“Well...you know what I think of most of Roosevelt’s ideas. Should I say more?”  Lawrence Hubbard, insurance agent in Hazard. 

“He makes me sick! Who does he think he is, anyhow?”  Miss Lewis, the clerk at the Grand Hotel in Hazard.

“Traditionally, Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November of each year, set apart by the Pilgrims during early American History. That day has been observed ever since, as a day set aside for giving thanks for all blessings, both spiritual and material. To me, it seems a sacrilege for any man, even though living in the modern age, to change it.”  Harry Howes with Citizens Bank in Hazard.

“What the hell have I to be thankful for anyhow? Ain’t got nothin’ and don’t want nothin’.” Unidentified curb-warmer on the Perry County Court House square.