When a family counts nine generations of members farming the land, one thing is for certain: They have shared many a Thanksgiving meal together. But not always around the table.
Sisters Helen Legare-Floyd and Linda Legare-Berry, along with brother Thomas S. Legare are still working the family land on Johns Island, just as their forebears did dating back to 1725.
Helen relates their holiday dinner tradition:
“Thanksgiving was a huge family thing at one time for the Legare family with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. Once Daddy started growing soybeans in the late 1960s, he was often still combining beans when Thanksgiving rolled around.
“As with any farmer, it didn't matter that it's a holiday, the crop is in the field and has to be harvested. Since Daddy won't come out of the field, we went to him. Our family tradition became a picnic in the field. We continued to have a picnic even on years that the beans were all harvested by Thanksgiving and we continued to do that until the 1980s.”
The Legares are thankful they have each other, Helen says. The past few years have been tough because of the loss of their father, their mother suffering Alzheimer's and the economy.
But, “through this all, we have stuck together and still speak to each other. We might fight with each other, but we stick together.”
Today, her 19-year-old niece, Sarah, has taken over the cooking duties, “pretty much on her own,” Helen says with pride.
One offering certain to be on the table is a plate of pickles.
“Our family always eats pickles with our meals,” Helen says. “My husband says it's not normal to have a whole shelf in your refrigerator dedicated to just pickles.”
Grandmother Legare's Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes 5 to 6 pints
About 15 pickling cucumbers
2 green peppers
8 small white onions
½ cup salt
Wash and slice the vegetables in thin slices. Mix with salt and pieces of cracked ice. Cover with weighted lid and let stand 3 hours. Drain.
For pickling sauce
4 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
4 cups vinegar
Mix all of the above together. Pour over sliced cucumbers. Place over low heat and heat to scalding. Place in sterilized jars and seal.