By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone. Hope you have a good Thanksgiving.
According to my information, Abraham Lincoln asked that the last Thursday in November be set aside for Thanksgiving. During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term, he thought that the date put Thanksgiving too close to Christmas and designated the third Thursday as Thanksgiving. He was already unpopular, due to serving his third term, and other programs he had instigated in his New Deal. Some of his critics said that if he could, he would have had the sun rising in the north and setting in the south. Eventually we got back to the original date.
I don’t know when the turkey got to be the bird of choice, but it created an entire new industry—turkey farming. I’ve heard it said that a turkey is the dumbest bird around but turkey hunters tell me that it is one of the most cunning in its natural habitat and the hardest to kill. I am not a hunter, and I am not qualified to verify that statement.
When I was living with Nannie and Papa Badley they never raised turkeys, but we would have baking hens with dressing, which I still like better than turkey. I am probably one of the few southerners who doesn’t eat fried chicken, although I eat turkey once a year and baked chicken once in a while.
In a column several years ago, I told of my extreme dislike of guineas. Although they are a good alarm system, they have few virtues. As a kid one of my chores was following the guineas to find their nests, which they always hid in the wild.
Those birds were so tricky that they would send decoys to throw me off the trail. However, I learned early that a guinea made a different cackle after laying her egg and I would listen for her sound and ultimately find the nest. I was supposed to pick the eggs up with a long handled spoon, as supposedly they would get the scent of my hand and abandon the nest.
Also, I was supposed to leave some eggs so they would return another day. This worked most of the time, with one exception. I was going to a nest in a briar thicket and came upon a chicken snake who was full of eggs and coiled up in the nest. I ran to the house and told Howard Herron who worked for Papa for over eight years. He took Papa’s old long Tom shotgun, walked up close to the next and pulled the trigger. Parts of eggs and snake flew all over the thicket. I suppose the snake died happy, but from that time on I have always hated guineas for putting me in such a position in the first place.
When Josie Simpson was working for Newman-Gardner, he and Bill Morgan were on a trip in an old Pontiac hearse that was used primarily as a utility vehicle, when they saw a man crossing the highway driving a flock of guineas. As I remember, the Pontiac had poor brakes, so Bill said that Josie had no choice but to drive through the flock of guineas. Bill said that he looked back and the man was shaking his fist at them and after they got out of sight they stopped and pulled some dead guineas off the vehicle. I always thought that Josie got the revenge that I never got on guineas.
One final word on guineas. Nannie would always set the eggs with a hen because she said that the guinea hen would go running through the dewey grass and the little guineas would follow, get wet and most of them would die. I don’t know what the hen thought about her strange looking brood.
Nannie told me that once she set duck eggs under a hen, and as they were following her they spotted the stock pond, dived right in and swam around. She said the hen squawked, ran around the pond, and then would have nothing to do with the little ducks. I hope you don’t mind a little levity this week, as I guess I’m already getting into the holiday spirit.
Let me hear from you at my same email address, firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P. O. Box 613189, Memphis, TN 38101. And again have a great Thanksgiving.