You may remember the Cartmill family [Ch. 8)] whom Clara and Margaret met through mutual friends from Kansas. Not only did Danny become like a son to Clara and Margaret, but also parents Marj and Dan and the whole Cartmill family remained close to them over the years.
At one point in my writing BECAUSE WE WANTED TO! I received a note from Marj and Dan with a letter Clara had written them several years earlier. One of many artifacts and stories I couldn’t quite fit into the book, it remained in a file, haunting me. I knew I couldn’t possibly rephrase it and capture the spirit with which Clara wrote it. But the blog now allows me the chance to include the whole thing in original wording. So, in Ring Number One, here are Clara and Margaret in action!
Dear Dan & Marj,
Tis time for another chapter in the saga of circuses at Singing Acres. (None of the names have been changed to protect the innocent—let’s face it; none are innocent!)
It all began as a typical day in Margaret’s life—she was at school—kids throwing erasers; teachers asleep in the lounge; the copy machine running off reams of the latest in applying-the-rules philosophy. Then she receives a message from Sherry. [Sherry Campbell, see pgs. 158 & 200 in the book]
“My Tom turkey had a stroke [Note: strokes are common among Toms] and he’ll have to be killed and dressed right away or we’ll lose all that meat. I put him in the yard; he CAN’T run away from you (the proverbial famous last words . . .) Can you possibly . . ..”
After school Margaret progresses to Sherry’s Rockvale chateau to nab said Tom, remembering, “He can’t run away.” Well, said Tom is no longer in ICU.
He gets up and runs. Margaret hotly pursues and at last prevails. Turkey tires. She gets him in the back of the car and tells him, “Stay!” Fast trip home ensues.
Meanwhile, Clara is back at the ranch, home from a typical day at school—you guessed it, kids throwing erasers, etc., anticipating a quiet peaceful Thursday evening with “Bill Cosby” and “Cheers.” Little does she know what lurks for her in the minds of Sherry, Margaret, and Tom.
Margaret, bursting into the house: “We have a very large problem out in the car.”
“What do you mean ‘WE,’ whiteman?” [recalling Tonto’s sage insight regarding assumptions]
“Well, Sherry left a message . . .”
Have you ever tried to picture a LARGE turkey who has had a stroke lying in the back of a Toyota? All kinds of things went through my mind, but not to worry. After all, how hard could it be to kill a disabled Tom? He’s probably lying out there flat on his back begging for euthanization, right? WRONG.
“Well,” Clara says, “let’s go do it.”
No, first we have to heat some water in the dunking barrel to dip him in after his demise.
No problem—put barrel on rack in ditch—put four buckets of tepid (faucet) water in barrel—light dragon’s tongue—aim at barrel bottom—bring water to just under boiling.
Now to kill Tom with the thought in the back of your mind that a dead turkey once broke the hand of an acquaintance of yours . . . but this one’s had a stroke . . .
I peeked in the back window at the Tom. Now, I’ve seen big turkeys, but this sucker must have been half elephant. He was HUGE. There he squatted, harmless looking. I nonetheless cautiously opened the back of the car with Margaret poised to pounce. Tom just sat there making barely audible turkey noises from somewhere in his depths. When Margaret pounced he started to plop around but she got him in a bear hug and carried him up toward the ax. I assumed the position of cheerleader for the trip. She got down more or less on her knees leaning forward with Tom in her arms and said, “Get hold of his head and stretch his neck out and chop off his head.”
Sure. Easy. Ax in left hand, turkey head in right hand. Ax off the head without hitting Margaret in the head or cutting off your own right hand. Easy.
Whack, flop; not even a dent. Whack—Tom went wild and began beating Margaret up. Got her in the face several times, upper body bruises, but finally she got him on his back. She stood on one wing and I stood on the other. I held his head thus giving her a chance at two hands on the ax. Finally, after several whacks, she got through. As soon as her pain subsided, we went to dip him in the water. He was so heavy, to quote a friend of ours “I kid you not” and “don’t you know,” it took both of us each on a leg, to dip him in the water. (Sometimes I hate Sherry.)
The next day Margaret took him down to Double C Meats to get him smoked. No one has an oven big enough to cook him. We’ll have enough smoked turkey for the next several Thanksgivings! The meat market man said, “That’s one big turkey!” He must have weighed 40 pounds dressed.
This all happened week before last. Margaret is almost all healed up. She really shouldn’t mess with turkeys.
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