Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Day in Review

Thanksgiving Eve we caught  part of My Life As A Turkey, which received an Emmy for Outstanding Nature Programming. It looks as though I can watch the entire program here, which I think I will do. The bit I saw looked very interesting.

The program is based on the book Illumination In The Flatwoods written by Joe Hutto. It details his experience raising a flock of wild turkeys from incubation to adulthood - not raising them as feeding and watering them in a coop or pen - but raising them as a dedicated mother.

It hasn't been that long since seeing wild turkeys in SW Iowa was a novelty and cause for some excitement. I remember when I was driving the school bus in 1984 and saw a flock of turkeys along the road. I stopped the bus just so the school kids and I could watch the turkeys for a few minutes.

Now I can see turkeys on the edge of the town where we live just by looking out my window. These two pictures were taken March 12, 2010 through the window on the back of the house. The turkeys were much closer to the deck until they saw me and started moving away.

Not only was yesterday Thanksgiving, it was also the one year anniversary of the death of Bud's Mother, Lottie. She used to talk about how much she enjoyed the turkeys she raised when she was a girl. I know she would have loved that PBS program. One or more of her turkeys were 'pets'. I imagine it was hard for her when it came time to sell them. (Or eat them!)
Lottie talked about the live turkeys that were given away each year during Corning's combination Turkey Day and Bargain Day. The chance for a free turkey two days before Thanksgiving always drew a large crowd. And the advertised bargains tempted those hopeful turkey winners into starting their holiday shopping while they were in town - sort of a precursor to the current mania for Black Friday bargains. She remembered when she was nine years old and sixty live turkeys were tossed off the downtown roof tops. If  you caught one, it was yours. Fights broke out when two people caught the same bird - kind of like those NFL players I watched yesterday fighting over a football pass.

They were still giving away live birds on Turkey Day when I was a child. Forty live turkeys purchased from a farmer near Afton were given away in 1948. The method of winning one had changed to 'the luck of the draw', however. Each time you purchased something from a participating merchant, you were eligible to put your name into the drawing which was usually held on main street near the bank.

I don't know just when the turkeys for Turkey Day went from being live to being frozen. I do know that two days after my 13th birthday, November 20, 1956, "Today was the turkey drawing. We got a turkey! Dad put it in the locker." That is the only time I remember our family winning a turkey on Turkey Day.

(These last two pictures of turkeys in our back yard were taken on Mother's Day this year.)

1 comment:

  1. We have lots of wild turkeys in the Sacramento, CA, area, too! I had no idea they existed outside the East Coast (you know, like around Plymouth, MA). So ignorant of me, I guess.

    It felt more rural where I grew up, in Tacoma, WA, but here there are actually loads of wildlife--deer, skunks, raccoons, and the turkeys. The turkeys particularly like the rivers around here, but they've even been seen on my suburban street.

    I have a niece in North Liberty (Iowa). I'm going to ask her on Facebook if she has seen them up her way.

    I'm not much of a blog follower, but I love this blog, so I might be back. I hope that's okay!
    --Margaret Keys (Malone is just a pen name I'm trying out.)