Over the decades, the folks up at The Farm went through several different growing phases. First there was cotton and when that collapsed they were growing various subsidized crops to try and replenish the soil. I remember the hog phase, the sheep phase, the cattle phase and especially the turkey phase. I still have the scars from that one.
During our visits to the farm, it was our chore to feed the chickens and gather eggs, so when the turkeys came along we first thought they were just big chickens. WRONG! Turkeys are mean! At that time we were close to turkey height – giving them the attack advantage. One pecked me in the face – just missing my eye – and leaving a scar that is finally beginning to recede into the wrinkles. We quickly learned to stay out of their way – and carry a stick at all times.
We did learn to appreciate those turkeys when, just before Thanksgiving, a 35-pound fresh turkey packed in dry ice arrived on the bus. This was before the days of UPS and FedEx. Many a package was shipped by bus or Railway Express. In our case, the bus worked faster than most of today’s ground shipping – if you were savvy to the schedules. In small town America of the 1950s and early 60s, the local Greyhound agent and railway agent could schedule a shipment from departure to destination – making each connection to keep the package moving and not stuck in the freight room. It wasn’t unusual that a package from the farm arrived in St. Augustine the next day.
A 35-pound turkey is a sight to behold. It’s also a lot of food for a family of five. It was delicious – the first five or six meals – but started getting monotonous real soon. So, when the 38-pound turkey arrived just before Christmas, we were a little less than overjoyed. We were still eating turkey well into February.
From then on, Mom would serve turkey either at Thanksgiving or at Christmas, but never again at both.