Bonacker’s Thanksgiving


End of season sharpshooting by surfcasters on Long Island’s East End

Hunting for wild turkey (the bird, not the Bourbon!) opened last week in East Hampton, a limited hunt and the first since before World War II. Turkeys were stocked in the area, starting about a decade ago, and now they are fairly common. A Bonacker’s Thanksgiving, however, didn’t always include turkey on the table.

Harvey Bennett of Amagansett's Tackle Shop bagged this wild turkey during the limited hunt before Thanksgiving

Harvey Bennett of Amagansett’s Tackle Shop bagged this wild turkey during the limited hunt before Thanksgiving

On the East End, Bonackers (short for the Indian word Accabonac, which roughly means land of ground nuts), are the descendants of the earliest working class English settlers of the hamlet known as Springs. Only a few such families remain of what used to be farmers, baymen and fishermen. The Bonacker family names most commonly include Miller, King, Bennett, Conklin, Havens, Strong and Lester.

These “bubs” lived low on the food chain.┬áIn the toughest of times, particularly during the Great Depression, Bonackers were known to eschew the traditional turkey on Thanksgiving and, instead, stuff a big meaty codfish with scallops, stale bread and whatever veggies their gardens would yield. Perhaps there would be some oyster stew or clam chowder, clam fritters or clam pie as well. The codfish, scallops, oysters and clams were plentiful and cheap, cheap, cheap back in the day. Not so any more.

So whether you are fortunate enough to have a fat fowl on your table this holiday, or you are giving a turkey a break by serving a ham, or perhaps a Bonacker’s turkey, here’s wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving from FishTales.

2 Responses to “Bonacker’s Thanksgiving”

  1. hlb says:

    you got it almost right! i like it , sometimes it takes the eyes of others to show the meaning in things ,happy thanksgiving capt. harvey l. bennett

  2. Santiago says:

    Alle vongole should be on the menu. Wanna go clamming again. Santiago

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