A meal with a 70-year-old history - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A meal with a 70-year-old history

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

At first glance, Bill McCarthy's Christmas day meal seems pretty typical: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing; all the typical holiday fixings.

But for McCarthy, this is an exact replica of a meal he'd eaten 70 years ago, to the day.

McCarthy, now 91, was 19 in 1944 and deployed to Italy during World War II.  It had been a tough year for McCarthy.  He saw more than his share of fighting and sustained more than one injury.  But to receive a meal that wasn't in K ration form was a big boost.

"When they said they were going to serve us a turkey dinner, I said, 'yeah, sure'," he said.  "But that meal was unbelievable.  That cook did such a good job."

McCarthy recently ran across the menu from that Christmas day meal 70 years ago.  He showed it to Laura Schuster, Bethany Home's dietary supervisor.

"He called me and said, 'do you want to see a menu from 1944?'" 

The two looked at it, and decided they would recreate that menu for Christmas.  All, but the giblet gravy. 

"We're kind of weird about what giblet gravy is," she said.  "So we decided probably not."

She also decided to make green bean casserole instead of serving regular green beans.  But it was a gesture McCarthy was really excited about.

Only, there was one small problem.

McCarthy doesn't like turkey.  In fact, his family said he's an extremely picky eater, and eats mostly beef.

But on this day, with all the history and memories flooding back, McCarthy made an exception.

"I don't like turkey, but I'm going to eat it anyway," he said.

He finished all the turkey on his plate.  "The meal is great," he said.

But to him, this meal is about much more than turkey.

"All the memories came back," he said.  "I'll never forget it."

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