Residents celebrate in variety of ways

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 22, 2007

NATCHEZ — Thanksgiving in Natchez, and all across the county, is a time for families and friends to celebrate life’s gifts and blessings.

And of those millions of families, each will celebrate Thanksgiving in their own special way.

Even across Natchez, families and friends will gather in ways that are uniquely their own.

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Natchez resident Greg Whitam said his family’s typical Thanksgiving is nothing short of a major event.

“We typically have 60-70 people,” he said. “That’s a whole lot of food.”

And Whitam said all that food is prepared by one person.

His first cousin, Whitam said, used to be a chef and actually enjoys preparing the massive meal.

“She really gets into it,” he said.

And when all those hungry mouths converge, they do it from near and far.

Whitam said that while each year is different, relatives typically come from Texas, Louisiana, Florida and even California.

While members of Whitam’s family head to Natchez in bunches, another man makes a solitary pilgrimage to Natchez to be with the last of his living relatives.

Bob Forman, 86, has been traveling to Natchez from South Dakota since 1964.

Forman, one of seven children, makes his yearly drive to Natchez to visit his last remaining sister and brother.

“It’s just us now,” he said.

Forman said each time he makes the trip it’s a dream come true.

“There is nothing else I want to do now,” he said.

Forman said his cross-country trek normally takes three days.

Many years ago, Forman said he used to fly, but times have changed.

“Flying is too expensive,” he said. “And it’s no fun.”

But Forman is not concerned with how he gets to Natchez, he’s just happy to be here.

Forman acknowledges that he probably doesn’t have too many Thanksgivings left.

“I want to make the best of what I have,” he said.

Even though some people, like Forman, would undertake a major journey to be with family on Thanksgiving, some are content all alone.

Willie Powell is one such man.

“It’s just a preference,” he said.

Powell said while he does have family to visit on Thanksgiving, sometimes he just likes to be alone.

Since the death of his wife in 2002 Powell said he has started spending most Thanksgivings alone.

But while Powell will be alone, he won’t be hungry.

“I’m making neck-bone dressing,” he said while fishing around in his truck for a bag full of turkey-necks.

Powell will also be making a Cornish hen and sweet potatoes.

“It’s just a good time to relax,” he said.

And while Powell’s kitchen will be a quiet place of solitude today, one kitchen across town will be anything but.

Executive chef for the Eola Hotel Tim Haller said he will be preparing a Thanksgiving meal to feed up to 500 hungry holiday diners.

“I love this type of stuff,” he said.

Armed with a dozen turkeys and about 200 pounds of roast beef, Haller said he is ready for the challenge of preparing such a massive meal.

Haller just moved from Tennessee and has only been at the Eola for 21 days.

But Haller said he is confident that dinner will be a success.

Haller said prep work started on Tuesday and has not stopped yet.

“As a rule of thumb everyone will be working tomorrow (Thanksgiving) ,” he said.

And with a 14-hour day, Haller said it’s going to be a long workday.

But the light at the end of the tunnel for Haller is the end of that day.

“As soon as I’m done I’m going to see my daughter, he said.”