Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Absurd Turkey Terrorist

En route home from the Post Office moments ago, I heard the most absurd turkey story on Michigan Public Radio. It prompted me to look for it online. I found numerous stories of turkey encounters from Louisiana to New Jersey, but not the one I just heard. So, I'll just recount what of it I can.

It seems an animal-loving couple lived either on Long Island, or a nearby coastal island where residents enjoyed semi-rural living, accompanied by a herd of 30-40 wild turkeys. One day this couple rescued a young turkey from the clutches of a predatory hawk. They patched the wounded bird and raised it as a pet, where it eventually became a large and somewhat ferocious Tom.

Whether this big bird was attached and protective of his owners property or was just territorial with the flock he controlled, this big bird became the nemesis of this neighborhood. He kept neighbors and everybody at a safe distance from that property, which I understood was a place that frequently hosted children.

One day, as luck would have it, two delivery people came, only to be attacked by this terrorist, supported by his 30-40 followers. Thinking of children and a fearful encounter, the delivery people called 911 for the local police. Two officers soon arrived and immediately encountered the terrorizing tom. He put one officer to flight, and prompted firepower response from the second officer. This stalwart six-footer, finally shot the bird in self-defense.

A couple shots brought the homeowner flying out into the yard. He arose in defense of his pet turkey and attacked the offending officer shooting his pet. This brought the mistress of the house into the fracas. She called the State Police, because the local officers had her husband handcuffed and were shooting their pet turkey.

Four-or five shots were finally fired, the turkey was killed and bagged for evidence. The police collectively arrested the homeowner for assaulting an officer et al, and jailed him. The case dragged on for 2½ years and $30,000 before being settled, the neighbors being well-pleased that their terrorist had been eliminated.

I listened to this story spin for several minutes--the absurd turkey terrorist, as the reporter narrated a lengthy history. It captivated me, taking me back half a century, to when my 10-year-old son was a fifth grader in Yazoo City, MS.

We were part of a large contingent of rural families, one of whom lived 20 miles over in the Delta, near Sartartia, MS. One Sunday, Rex and Marguerite invited us home for dinner--all-afternoon event,and we had evening church in those days. Our hosts owned numerous farm animals and our children were free to roam, explore, play and and be children.

The one deterrent to safety was their overly aggressive turkey tom that they laughingly cautioned us against. Big Rex was perhaps 230 pounds, and able to protect himself, admitted to sometimes being hassled by this obnoxious bird.

Everyone laughed except my son’s mother! She had already warned her son to do whatever he needed, to protect himself from this bird. Midafternoon, the kids were being kids, and that turkey decided to do what he did best; he attacked our undersized son. After the fact, we learned that this preacher’s kid had his baseball bat and when the affronting terrorist made an offensive pass at him, he took careful aim, and with a Babe Ruth swing, laid "Big Tom" stretched flat on the ground - out colder than a mackerel.

This good little "PK", was afraid of offending our hosts, but as I recall, they took it in good stride. They were not at all offended, but our kids had a few terrorizing moments--before and after--wondering what it was all about.

Privately at home, we had a good family laugh, figuring the terrorizing-tom got exactly what he deserved. Moreover, we were the proud parents of an undersized-kid who, inspiteof his small-stature, did not lack in fortitude and bravery.

We raised our two to be children; we expected them to enjoy their childhood. They have long since become adults, but they have faced life with the bravery that goes with knowing who you are as human beings, and they have faced life with integrity, and I could not ask more than that.

Oh yes, that big tom finally revived after a spell. He staggered to his feet, shook his head, and stumbled off to the barnyard. From Warner's World, I can tell you he didn’t chase people any more after that -

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