As Thanksgiving approaches this year I’m battling a greasy, black funk of depression that threatens to consume my very soul. I sit in a dark corner with a mind-altering chemical (on the rocks), listening to “Faust”, and reflecting on my favorite holiday from years past. Once the day was idyllic; a warm celebration of gratitude and togetherness. Everything felt safe and without end. Once, the only traditional football game on television was Packers at the Lions. Sadly those days are forever gone, but fondly remembered. As long as one’s mind is sound, memories cannot be taken away. Eventually that’s all that remains of a once optimistic and promising life. The entire generation that preceded mine has passed beyond the veil of this life into a shadowy and mysterious abyss—they’ve taken a ride on the mystery train; and the survivors of our immediate families live 2,000 miles away on the west coast from Oregon to southern California. Over the years we have traveled back-and-forth to commemorate the occasion, but since the miseries-in-travel ushered in by 9/11; well, not so much. Still, Kay and I enjoy the day though it is a bit lonely, happy to have each other. But—wait a minute! This essay is not about nostalgia and depression! It’s about turkeys! You know those funny-looking birds with that red thing hanging down? Specifically it’s about two fraternity brothers, Fred Jackson and Dick Tompkins, Sigma Mu Sigma rootin’ tootin’ turkey rustlers from back-in-the-day. |
Now I feel sooo much better.
Fred was James Dean cool, emanating a kind of the quiet inscrutability. I mean, the guy had the only room in the fraternity house with a private bath, and he used the tub to contain a self-built still, which if memory serves me right, was “discovered” by the local police and confiscated. Fred got a little tipsy one night and was detained by the cops. He told them he made his own booze and volunteered to show them. How many college students do you know that have an airplane? Fred had one. However, unlike James Dean when Fred got into a crash he walked away. He totaled a Mercedes-Benz roadster, and to top that, flew his plane into a mountain returning home. These days I refer to him as Agent 702 (his fraternity number). Fred says he is motivated to compile written accounts about the above events, in addition to the turkey rustling adventure. Meanwhile, I’ll relate my version of the latter from his words… He writes of a “mission” to steal a turkey from a farm near our college, as follows: “I knew it was wrong and we could have gotten shot or arrested, but it sure was fun. The thrill of the adventure was too much to resist…we ended up with two huge dinners for eight to ten people. We latched on to a really huge turkey.”
The caper took place late at night when everyone in the country was supposed to be asleep. Fred and Dick parked the car at the edge of a field farthest from the farm house. As the guys furtively moved into the field toward the birds, the startled turkeys moved closer to the house. At that point dogs started barking and didn’t stop for the entire duration of their “mission”. Soon the whole flock panicked and created more of an uproar, an efficient burglar alarm. So much for stealth. Both guys had turkey shit all over their clothes from their belly-sliding, commando-type approach, Fred with a knife in his teeth pirate style. Providence was with the guys in that the resident farmer neither checked out the commotion nor loosed-the-hounds.
They were successful in getting between some the turkeys and the farm house and began throwing the knife at the birds. The best they could do was hit some of the birds with the blunt end, which caused even more of an uproar. Finally, Fred got near “one of the biggest gobblers I’ve ever seen”, which was between him and the car. With a leap, Fred caught one of the monster’s legs, the bird raising holy hell gobbling, flapping his wings, and dragging Fred around and around, and jabbing his assailant with the spur on his free foot. Finally Dick arrived grabbed the turkey by the neck, and the two of them ran for the car holding the struggling bird from opposite ends.
Dick was married and lived off campus and they took the turkey to the basement in his rented home, the idea to butcher and clean the bird. They tied the turkey’s feet, suspended him upside down from a water pipe, and Fred cut the turkey’s throat. From the turkey’s struggle the pipe came loose, and water gushed forth amongst blood and feathers. What a mess! Hours later the bird was plucked and cleaned. The head of the bird was cast aside on the floor, and Fred said he noticed the neck resembled a man ready for sex. About this time Dick’s wife appeared and observed Fred laughing and “stroking” the phallic symbol. In Fred’s words, “Boy, did she bop me. I saw stars.”
Fred’s final words when recalling the great turkey rustle were, “I would not want my kids doing something like that.” How many of us have said the same thing?
Oh, and Fred’s still flying.
Respectfully submitted, Gene Myers aka Agent 772
Myers is author of AFTER HOURS: ADVENTURES OF AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN (2009), Strategic Publishing Group, New York, NY – a hilarious account of the author’s overseas travels; and SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE (2010), PublishAmerica, Fredericksburg, MD - a mildly sinister, but amusing work of fiction. Both are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and available in Amazon Kindle and Nook formats.
Related Articles -
Thanksgiving, turkeys, fraternity, college,