According to the Cornell University bird app, the bird Iʼve been following through this stand of piney woods is a wild turkey.
Itʼs smart of the turkey to hang out in a nature preserve a few days before Thanksgiving.
But itʼs also a bit surprising, as Iʼm just on the very southern edge of wild turkey range, and according to the newspaper, wild turkey populations in this part of the world have been plummeting for the last decade or so.
In the decades since, Iʼve spoken with dozens of people who swear they saw video of the turkeys falling to the ground. Some remember seeing video of the flailing birds being thrown from the helicopter, feathers scattering in the wind. Some remember seeing them cratering parked cars “like sacks of wet cement” from the sky. But again, none of those things happened. Even if they had happened, it wouldnʼt have been possible to film them. Youʼd have to have a camera hovering in the air just below the helicopter, and another on the ground in exactly the right place to capture the Sakrete impacts.
What we all saw was the power of radio.
The episode of WKRP in Cincinnati that depicted the turkey toss only showed Les Nessman standing in front of a store, excitedly craning his neck toward the sky, one hand clenching a microphone, the other trying to keep his headphones on; and the WKRP air studio, with Dr. Johnny Fever, Bailey Quarters, Venus Flytrap, and Andy Travis listening in anticipation and eventual dismay as the episode unfolds.
In spite of what seemingly millions of otherwise rational people think they saw, at no time was a single turkey shown. Not in the original airing on CBS, nor on the countless annual reruns since. Spoken word sowed the seeds, and each of our imaginations did the rest. The result is a common social memory of an event that never actually happened.
Thatʼs the power of radio. Even on television, it was the power of radio.
An object can be both well done, and not good at the same time. To wit: “Holiday Stuffing” favor potato chips from H.E.B.
The San Antonio supermarket chain has leapfrogged pumpkin spice season and landed firmly in the fuzzy, nostalgic quagmire of Thanksmas season.
Opening the bag, I took my usual deep breath of snackmosphere to preview what was ahead, and I nearly gagged. It really does smell very much like Stove-Top stuffing. It also tastes more like stuffing than a lot of brandsʼ actual boxed stuffing does these days.
So H.E.B. gets an A+ for execution, because when someone said “make stuffing-flavored potato chips,” someone else made it happen. But as food goes, itʼs just not good, because when you eat it, you expect one thing and get another.
Iʼll still finish the bag, though. And let the “Holiday” term slide because stuffing is traditional for both Christmas and Thanksgiving.
The Navajo have a phrase for Happy Thanksgiving because, as I learned on the rez, real indians do celebrate Thanksgiving, complete with paper turkey decorations, because they know itʼs a celebration of community and giving thanks for the things we have, and actually has nothing to do with Pilgrim oppression, and all that is a fairy tale from white east coast college professors who need to see conflict in everything order to keep the grant money coming.
If the Navajo can celebrate Thanksgiving, so can you.