How We Kept Thanksgiving at Oldtown
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Chapter XXVII Passage: Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for writing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” wrote another novel in 1869 called “Oldtown Folks.” The novel tells about life in a New England village called Oldtown. This passage tells about the preparations for Thanksgiving. Students will answer questions on the meaning of some of the words and phrases in the passage.

Topic(s): Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction. Skill(s): Context Clues, Figurative Language. Genre(s): Prose

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Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Oldtown Folks” in 1869. She

tells about life in a New England village called Oldtown. The passage below tells about Thanksgiving preparations in a Massachusetts town.

 The making of pies at this period assumed vast proportions that verged upon the sublime. Pies were made by forties and fifties and hundreds, and made of everything on the earth and under the earth.

The pie is an English institution, which, planted on American soil, forthwith ran rampant and burst forth into an untold variety of genera and species. Not merely the old traditional mince pie, but a thousand strictly American seedlings from that main stock, evinced the power of American housewives to adapt old institutions to new uses. Pumpkin pies, cranberry pies, huckleberry pies, cherry pies, green-currant pies, peach, pear, and plum pies, custard pies, apple pies, Marlborough-pudding pies – pies with top crusts, and pies without, – pies adorned with all sorts of fanciful flutings and architectural strips laid across and around, and otherwise varied, attested the boundless fertility of the feminine mind, when once let loose in a given direction.

Fancy the heat and vigor of the great pan-formation, when Aunt Lois and Aunt Keziah, and my mother and grandmother, all in ecstasies of creative inspiration, ran, bustled, and hurried, – mixing, rolling, tasting, consulting, – alternately setting us children to work when anything could be made of us, and then chasing us all out of the kitchen when our misinformed childhood ventured to take too many liberties with sacred mysteries. Then out we would all fly at the kitchen door, like sparks from a blacksmith’s window.

Comprehension Questions

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