We're all familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving. Perhaps you were even privileged enough to see a school play version of the tale this year. Comedian Jimmy Tingle has been imagining the extreme hardship the Pilgrims had to endure and offered this commentary:
We all know it's a tough economy right now, but even with high unemployment — at least we're not the Pilgrims. They had it really tough.
Persecuted in England for their Puritan beliefs, they left England and went to Holland. Persecuted in Holland, they quickly became disillusioned. One night feeling ostracized and rejected by the entire world, they had a meeting.
“We're persecuted in England. We are persecuted in Holland. Where in this world can we go to practice our religion freely?”
One of them said, "How about Cape Cod?"
“Could we get a place?” shouted one of the elders.
“It's the off-season,” declared the real estate agent trying to redeem himself for convincing the group that Holland would be a good move. “And its 1620."
So 100 Pilgrims set sail for the new world and landed in Provincetown, Mass. during the winter of 1620. Even in 1620 you couldn't get a place for 100 people in Provincetown. They were offered a place on Rt. 6, but turned it down.
“We're the Pilgrims. We just came from Europe. We're not staying on Rt. 6. We just fled England and then Holland. We're not staying in Hyannis.
“Get us a place in Provincetown proper or we'll spend the entire winter on the boat.”
So the Pilgrims spent the entire first winter in the new world on the Mayflower in Provincetown Bay. Imagine what that must have been like. The Cape is dead in the winter now.
I think we all underestimate the hardships these poor people endured. They were basically living outside, braving the elements and driven by a dream for a better world — they were the original Occupy Wall Street.
They had big buckles on their shoes, big buckles on their belts, big buckles on their hats. Let's face it — the Pilgrims were a buckled up people. You know you are stressed out when you need a buckle on your hat to keep your head together.
Initially the Pilgrims got along very well with the Native Americans. The Indians showed great compassion and empathy for the Pilgrims. If it were not for Squanto and Massasoit the Pilgrims never would have made it through that first winter.
Squanto and Massasoit said to their fellow tribesmen, “Look at these poor people, we have to help them, they're all buckled up. How are they going to catch a deer? You can hear them coming through the woods for miles.”
Squanto in an attempt to acclimate the Pilgrims to the new world said to Miles Standish: “Miles Standish, lighten up bro! You're on Cape Cod, it's a new world! For the Love of God, put on some sandals and unbuckle the hat!”
- Jimmy Tingle's "American Dream" at the Regent Theatre, Saturday, November 26
This program aired on November 24, 2011.