by Rachel Renaud
As Thanksgiving is swiftly approaching, I am sure everyone is already thinking of the delicious food to be served. Yams, ham, green beans, turkey, and pumpkin pie all make up the stereotypical Thanksgiving dinner that we enjoy. With the gathering of families and friends to enjoy this feast, there is sure to be some drama and stress. But for Martha Berry in 1928, Thanksgiving was stressful in a different way.
In letters written about a month after the incident, Martha Berry mentions that over fifty quails were killed on Berry’s campus by various people for their Thanksgiving dinners. Looking through the tag and other documents, there is not much to be found about the quails, but I did want to find out the net price of the loss the Berry Schools suffered with these quails’ deaths.
Finding out the prices of quails today proved to be a little difficult but still interesting. On the Citarella Fine Foods website, a site featuring gourmet meat, a half of pound of quail costs $5.99. On the Meats USA site, a pound of quail would be $7.68. I looked up the weight of quails and assuming Martha Berry had American quails (a heavier type of quail) on the land, a mature bird would weigh about 220 grams, or .48 pounds. So using a calculator I figured that was about 24 pounds of quail meat that was stolen from the Berry grounds. Using the lowest price I found, that’s about $287 dollars in today’s money. Taking inflation into account, account the cost of the stolen birds in 1928 would be $20.62. That was quite a lot of money that could have been used to take care of the students, since the cost of tuition for a student for a whole year was only $150.
Perhaps Martha Berry realized just how much all those quails were worth, because she asked that there be a guard on duty on Christmas day so that no one killed her quails for their Christmas dinners too. I hope you found my investigation work amusing and hopefully even interesting. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving break!