Henry the turkey made Thanksgiving memorable

By Margarita Trujillo

Contributing writer

Thanksgiving 1958 has no equal in my memory, and I am thankful of that.

I know everyone has had a holiday when every thing seems to go in the wrong direction. This was it for me, while living in Kansas City, Mo.

We were attending nursing school. That year I was sharing an apartment with a classmate. I was from New Mexico and she was from Iowa. We were both 18 and had grown up on a farm. We lived in a three-story house with all young ladies except for one married couple that lived on the third floor.

Jim and Becky were the couple that lived upstairs with their baby. We were all struggling to make ends meet, so we shared everything we could to help one another.

I won a turkey on a raffle ticket I bought for a dime from a church fund-raiser. I rode the bus to the church since we did not have a car. When I got to the church, the receptionist asked me to wait while the handyman brought my prize turkey. I waited eagerly.

The man returned carrying a live turkey in a wire cage I was shocked. How could this be? I was not going to be able to ride the bus with a turkey.

The receptionist said if you do not want the turkey you do not have to take it. My friends were counting on this turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and though I knew it would be a struggle, I decided to take the bird home.

Two bus drivers would not allow me on their bus with my prize. It was dark, cold and starting to snow. Finally a driver said that I could get on the bus since there were few passengers. Some of the passengers made jokes about country bumpkins, etc. That was just the beginning of our problems.

We did not have a hatchet, so we had to improvise. We were students at a hospital, so we swiped an almost empty can of ether we would use to put the turkey, ”Henry the Eighth,” out of his misery. We went to the garage with a foot tub for hot water so we could pluck the feathers.

We euthanized the bird with the ether, but the feathers were difficult. The problem was that the water would not stay hot by the time we brought it downstairs to the frozen garage.

One would think that two country girls would have been able to handle this better. We were not doing well. We gave up and tossed Henry the Eighth in the dumpster. We would wait and tell Jim and Becky later that dinner would be whatever we had enough money to buy, which was looking like mac and cheese and hot dogs if we were lucky .

In the morning, Jim was banging on our door and shouting something about brainless people. When

he calmed down a little, he said look out the window, and there in the driveway was Henry the Eighth, prancing gingerly around half-naked in the snow and saying gobble gobble. I guess we did not have enough ether, either.

Jim solved the problem and Becky cooked the turkey, but it was many years before I could eat turkey. I guess the moral of the story, if there is one, would be: Prepare properly to do any task.

I hope everyone has a great year and a wonderful holiday.


Margarita Trujillo lives in Enumclaw.