The Turkey Club

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday has always been getting together with family and friends, including those who have moved away from the community for one reason or another. These former friends and neighbors all seem to have a similar response when they see me. Before I open my mouth to say hello, they're talking turkey.

“Whenever I think of you I remember that big turkey,” stated a former minister who was attending a funeral in town recently.

He went on to regale the circle that had gathered around us with tales of Tom the terrible turkey.

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I saw several exchange dubious glances. They obviously never met a turkey face to face.

“What is that noise,” a friend who had given me a ride home one afternoon asked.

Thump-thump – thump-thump – THUMP-THUMP!

“It sounds like a drum,” she said.

“It is,” I replied. “A drumstick, that is.”

At that moment a knobby baldhead sprouting bristly black hairs came into view through her car window. Two beady eyes followed, framed by a face that was turning bright blue.

“What is that?” my friend shrieked. “A bald eagle?”

“Funny you should ask that,” I chatted in hopes of relieving my friend's tense grip on the steering wheel. “Benjamin Franklin actually wanted the turkey to be our national bird. Can you imagine that face on a postage stamp?”

The face in question, of course, belonged to our turkey, Tom – all 50 pounds of him.

Tom puffed out his cheeks.

“Huff-huff,” he said.

More thumping and the sound of feathers hitting against the car door followed.

“Quills,” I said.

“Kills – did you say kills?” my friend leaned closer to the bird-less side of her car.

“Tom's not a killer turkey,” I said. “Why he wouldn't even kill a fly.”

Right on cue, a fly buzzed by, and Tom swallowed it whole.

I could see that my friend was not convinced. I will have to admit that the large bird with battle feathers extended was a formidable sight.

“Gobble, gobble, gobble,” Tom trumpeted through the car window as my friend cringed again.

“You're not the first to be intimidated by a turkey,” I consoled.

I think of Tom every time I hear the power company's slogan, “Our business is electric, but we get our power from you.”

“Your meter reader is running,” granddaughter Amy announced one afternoon when she came in from school.

“Of course the meter is running,” I said, pointing to the electric mixer in my hand. “When the power's on the meter is running.”

“Not the meter,” Amy persisted. “The meter reader – and now he won't get out of his truck.”

It was true. I looked out the window and the power company's truck was in the yard. Judging from the meter reader's frightened expression, no power on earth would entice him to come out.

The turkey circling his truck offered a clue to the problem.

When I went out to apologize (and read the meter myself) I noticed the comment written on the clipboard on the driver's front seat. Next to comments like “gate locked” or “mean dog” was the one beside our address – “BAD TURKEY!”

And so he was.

“The biggest bird I had ever seen in my life came around the corner,” my minister friend was continuing with his story as I snapped out of my reverie of Thanksgivings past.

Our farm had been one of his first pastoral visits after coming to Farmville – and probably the last for quite awhile.

I, too, remember that day like it was yesterday.

“I recall saying something like – I didn't know turkeys could get so big,” the minister was warming to his topic.

Tom was getting warmed up as well as he turned a beady eye in the clergyman's direction and began his charge, full-feather, across the yard.

The new minister's composure was ruffled, and for good reason. Ministers are accustomed to coming for dinner; few have dinner come after them.

“I made a run for my car,” the minister concluded his story, still chuckling.

At least he was laughing.

Hindsight may be 20/20, but I suspect most who encountered Tom over the years were thinking along the lines of 20-gauge – shotgun, that is.

One thing is for sure – Tom made a lasting impression.

His “turkey club” was not a fan club.

It was, in fact, a different sandwich all together: lettuce, tomato, mayo – hold the turkey.

If, that is, you dare.