Five Awful Thanksgivings in History

November 15th, 2007

Ku-Klux Klan

In many ways, Thanksgiving is an un-American holiday. Consumption seldom goes beyond an excess of turkey and pumpkin pie, and garish displays are limited to a few stupid parades and some of the most mediocre football of the year. Good old all-American chaos is down — but not entirely out.

Thanksgiving Day Massacre, Reno, 1980

Priscilla Ford had a long history of psychiatric problems and bizarre behavior, marked by such quixotic acts as suing the Mormon Church and attempting to speak at the 1972 Republican Convention. The capper came on the Thanksgiving afternoon when she got even with the City of Reno. In front of the downtown casinos, she steered her black 1974 Lincoln onto a crowded sidewalk and mowed down the crowds of holiday gamblers and gambolers. She left six dead and 23 injured in her wake. Pulled over a few blocks later, she told police, "Sometimes I am called Jesus Christ." She later expressed a fervent hope that she'd nailed 75 people, and explained the voice of Joan (Mrs. Edward) Kennedy had told her to do it. Nonetheless, she was found legally sane and duly convicted of murder.

Founding of the Ku Klux Klan, Atlanta, 1915

At 35, failed preacher William Simmons had found his true calling as a fraternal lodge leader. In addition to commanding five regiments of the Woodmen, he was a heavy in several Masonic orders and a Knight Templar. But his dream was to have his own personal fraternal organization. And he wanted more than funny hats and secret handshakes — he wanted to revive the Ku Klux Klan. His dream came to fruition Thanksgiving Eve when 40 handpicked men gathered to re-launch the Klan. A group of 15 stalwarts recessed to the top of nearby Stone Mountain for an early morning cross-burning. Simmons tied his first recruitment drive in with D.W. Griffith's famous film The Birth of a Nation, which opened in Atlanta the following week. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The Great Football Fry, San Francisco, 1900

Back in the good old days of Thanksgiving Day football, the hearts and minds of Bay Area football fans were not on dinner, but the day's "Big Game" between the University of California and Stanford. The 1900 edition of this classic was, of course, sold out. The roofs of the buildings surrounding the stadium were crowded with budget-minded fans craning for a glimpse of the action. Twenty minutes into the game, the roof of one building collapsed. Unfortunately, the building housed a glass factory, complete with a red-hot furnace filled with molten glass. Turkeys weren't the only things getting roasted in San Francisco that day. Twenty-two people were killed and over 80 injured in what remains the worst — and most bizarre — disaster ever to befall American sports fans.

Missionary Massacre, Zimbabwe 1987

Early on Thanksgiving morning, Marxist Zimbabwean rebels descended on two farms run by white Pentecostal missionaries. What they lacked in Thanksgiving spirit they made up for in their revolutionary zeal. First they tied up the 16 white missionaries — men, women, and children, including two Americans. Then, as they gleefully sang revolutionary songs, they hacked their captives to death. Officials could only describe the resulting carnage as "barbaric."

Executive Assassination, Cordoba, Argentina, 1973

At the height of the Argentinean urban terrorist fad, a band of 15 young men waylaid John Swint, the general manager of a local Ford subsidiary, on Thanksgiving Day. The Peronist gunmen, upset with the way President Juan Peron had turned on them, later claimed they'd only wanted to kidnap the American executive. But according to witnesses, it was a turkey-shoot from the get-go. The gunmen immediately started blasting away with shotguns and assault rifles, killing Swint's bodyguard and chauffeur and critically injuring another bodyguard. One blond gunner unloaded a quick machine gun blast into Swint's body at close range — just to be sure.

See also:
Reverend Billy Wants You to Stop Shopping

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16 Responses to “Five Awful Thanksgivings in History”

  1. Mike B Says:

    I could be wrong, but aren’t you the same John Marr who used to print a zine called “Murder Can Be Fun”? If you are… welcome back.

  2. joan kennedy | I news mag Says:

    […] Five Awful Thanksgivings in History […]

  3. ILiveintheREALworld Says:

    Wow !! What an Idiotic American… I bet he gets his history off the backs of books… Every try KNOWING something… This guy is a fool if there ever was one… This is another stupid ASS American that doesn’t even know his own real history because he publicly hates himself so much… IDIOTH !!!

  4. Does it matter Says:

    I agree with ILiveintheREALworld about him being an idiot. First off Thanksgiving is an American Holiday. So just because something bad happened in the world on that day does not make it an awful Thanksgiving. So this list of five is really only 3 who gives a shit what happened in Zimbabwe or Argentina.

  5. IDIOTH Says:


    “ILiveintheREALworld “?
    You live in your own made up world where you’re not a total moron eurotrash craphammer.

    “I bet he gets his history off the backs of books…” As opposed to a failbot ass-tard such as yourself who gets his history off of the bumper stickers on his 1974 citroen wagon.

    HERES A TIP GUNTHER: When insulting or flaming someone on the net, spellcheck your work before you hit the submit button.

  6. Fenster online Says:

    thanks, I love the part with the glass ;).. fantastic!

  7. The Worst Thanksgiving Days in History | Disinformation Says:

    […] John Marr takes a dark look at a holiday tradition of “good old all-American chaos” on 10 Zen Monkeys: Founding of the Ku Klux Klan, Atlanta, 1915: At 35, failed preacher William Simmons had found his […]

  8. matt smyth Says:

    I have to agree with ILiveintheREALworld and Does it matter the shit that happened in Zimbabwe and Argentina (although not very nice) don’t have a thing to do with thanksgiving.

    And IDIOTH if all you can do is bitch about a miss spelled word I suggest you have a big cup of: SHUT THE FUCK UP :)

  9. what are you thankful for… « the lemonspank Says:

    […] Via CLICK […]

  10. S. Marty McPants Says:

    Joseph Simmons, not William, revived the Klan. And lets not forget Edward Clarke and the flesh-eating DC Stephenson.

  11. The Jamhole » Blog Archive » Ep 428: Give Thanks Says:

    […] learn about Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Here are five awful thanksgivings in […]

  12. The Five Worst Thanksgivings in History | Disinformation Says:

    […] you’re dreading your family Thanksgiving, it could be worse! John Marr identifies the five worst Thanksgivings in history, which included the day the Ku Klux Klan was founded, and Reno’s “Thanksgiving Day […]

  13. The Five Worst Thanksgivings in History | Disinformation Says:

    […] “Death at Disneyland“. Here’s an even more brain-frying article he wrote about the worst Thanksgivings ever in American history. I read this every year as a gratefulness-inducing holiday tradition. Be thankful you […]

  14. Doug Brunell Says:

    It’s got to be the same Marr.

  15. Gia Ellington Says:

    What the hell?

  16. Occupy Thanksgiving!: A Shot of Cranberry Schnapps to Clear the Drowsing | Artichilles Says:

    […] Preacher William Simmons and 15 others revived the Ku Klux Klan by burning a cross on Georgia’s Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving, tying the event to the […]

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