One dead turkey…
Editor's note: The following story was written by Hartselle resident Debbie Walker.
As most of you know, a mother will do almost anything to protect her young. Well, in the South, that translates to "any mama worth her salt will do pretty near anything to protect her younguns' (or youngun, in this case). This is my story…
I was in the second grade at Cotaco Elementary School, and the worst part of my otherwise happy little life was walking home from the bus in the afternoons. Just when most kids my age were planning their afternoon activities of bike riding, hide-n-seek, cartwheel turnin' and, of course, the all important task of mud pie making, I was in fear for my very life.
You see, our neighbors at the time had the biggest, meanest ol' Tom Turkey you have ever seen and it had become his goal in life to terrorize me on my walk from the bus to our front porch, where my mama would fling open the front door and jerk me inside (mad as a wet hen, I might add). After the first few attacks on her innocent little girl, my mama, being the good mama that she is, began escorting me to the house. Although thankful for the protection, I was somewhat embarrassed that my mama had to walk me down the driveway. Anyway, one day she finally had enough.
When my daddy got home from work she began telling him about these ruthless attacks and that if he did not do something about "that creature" she was going to kill it dead.
Well, my daddy, being the social butterfly that he is, poured himself a glass of iced tea, retired to his recliner for the evening and thought nothing more of it. Not so for mama. She stayed up all night thinking of a plan, and by morning, she was ready to carry it out.
When she was pretty sure that no one was home next door, she went over, empty measuring cup in hand, to ask to borrow a cup of sugar for a recipe she was making. This, of course, was just a farce just in case someone should open the door. No one did. Now she was sure that the time had come.
She went quickly and got the corn she had borrowed from my Grandaddy's corn crib and sprinkled some of it on the ground to lure ol' Tom over to our yard where she planned to knock him in the head with a hammer.
Well, ol' Tom did not come alone. He brought two of his little "chickadees" with him and when those three turkeys started peckin' at the ground to get that yummy corn…well, if you've ever seen a turkey peckin' you can see what the dilemma was. Mama panicked and called her life-long friend Virginia to come and help. Virginia said she would come and bring a pistol and "whack" the turkey good. But, after much discussion, the partners in crime decided that would surely draw more attention than was needed to the murder of a Tom Turkey and they would have to think of a quieter, less messy alternative.
They began looking around and noticed some lumber from where my daddy, who was always building and tearing down walls and things, had piled up a bunch of boards from his latest project. Mama grabbed a two by four and, with Virginia on one side and mama on the other, they chased that turkey all over the yard. Probably not the best place, since all the traffic passing by could witness the murder.
None the less, they had him now. Turkeys, however, do not go down without a fight and ol' Tom flipped and flopped all over that yard with those two Southern Belles following close behind trying to do him in once and for all. The final blow came when those respectable Southern ladies decided that maybe an axe would make a better instrument of execution.
Finally, the job was done. All that remained in mama's plan now was to scatter some of the feathers around in the woods behind the neighbor's house to make it look like some other animal had done ol' Tom in. Then, suddenly, the ladies remembered that Thanksgiving was just around the corner and Tom was a mighty bug turkey. What a feast he would make!
The problem now was to clean this beast. Neither one of them had cleaned a turkey, but they were feeling pretty confident, so they just strung him up on the clothesline out back and hoped they could finish the job before the neighbors got home. Virginia remembered her mama pouring boiling water over a chicken to make it easier to pluck the feathers. Well, that didn't help much with a turkey and it took a long time to rid ol' Tom of his. Then the time came to clean out his innards.
Using a spoon seemed the easiest method. Now remember, this turkey was big, dead and getting stiffer every second. This was not a job for the faint of heart, but they were determined to finish what they had started. By the time ol' Tom was clean and ready to be taken in to freeze for the up-coming holiday, his legs were completely straight and stiff as boards. But at least now, they had him inside where they could finish in private.
The two ladies commended to cleaning out the entire top rack of the icebox to store ol' Tom.
Just in time, the task was finished and it was time for Daddy to get home from work. As was his routing, he kissed Mama and went to the icebox for a tall refreshing glass of ice tea. But when he opened the door of that refrigerator, he was anything but refreshed.
Stumbling backwards at the sight of that giant turkey stretched out there in our icebox, he stammered "Shirley, what have you done?"
"I did just what I told you I'd do," she replied.
So, we had our Thanksgiving turkey with weeks to spare. And our neighbors? They built a pen the very next day to protect the rest of their turkeys (from what or whom they did not know.)
I could now walk safely from the bus in all my big girl glory. The weeks passed and Thanksgiving Day arrived and Mama went to the icebox and brought ol' Tom out to thaw. He was stretched out, legs sticking in the air when the doorbell rang. Guess who was standing there, needing to use our telephone, which, of course, hung in our kitchen with the ol' dead Tom turkey. You guessed it…the turkey neighbor.
Now, a turkey thawing in the kitchen sink would not normally be a big deal, but who ever got a turkey with his legs outstretched like that down at the Kroger store? Well, we ate ol' Tom, tough as he was, and if asked what I was thankful for that Thanksgiving, I bet you already know…no more turkey terrorists. And a mama who was worth her salt.