Two girls sit in front of an apple display in the shape of a turkey in Martinsburg, W. Va.
Two girls sit in front of an apple display in the shape of a turkey in Martinsburg, W. Va.
Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart

A Tale of Turkey, Apples, and Bread

From the cold storage vault comes a Thanksgiving-themed gem. Shot on assignment by B. Anthony Stewart but never published, this Dufaycolor photograph of two young women in front of a turkey-shaped display at an apple festival in Martinsburg, W. Va, is an eye-catcher of kitsch and color.

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Looking to put the kitsch in context, I turned to the August 1940 issue, where this assignment culminated in a 44-page journey through the Mountain State.

A few things I learned while reading “West Virginia: Treasure Chest of Industry” and the accompanying picture essay: In 1939, the year this photograph was made, West Virginia grew 4 million bushels of eating apples. How many apples is this, you might ask? Calculated at 126 medium apples per bushel, this comes to something in the neighborhood of 504,000,000 pieces of fruit. That is a lot of applesauce—and mosaics.

Put Me Down, You’re Ruffling My Dignity!

And, at the time, West Virginia raised nearly enough turkeys to feed every family in the state a Thanksgiving dinner. Before that, however, wild turkeys ruled the roost. Early settlers called wild turkey breast “bread.” When pioneers spoke of meat, they actually meant bear.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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