What Ever Happened to Old Tom?

Once upon a time I worked at the Milwaukee County Zoo. The zoo had a children’s section and petting zoo that was set up as a farm. One morning before the 9:00 AM opening I was working at the farm. They had an enormous tom turkey on display. One of the zookeepers was going about his morning rituals in the corral. That old tom kept following him around.

Let me first describe the turkey: he was an old tom of the domestic variety. A wild turkey generally stands tall, appears relatively slender, and walks about with movements altogether saurian. But this tom was domestic and obviously bred for substantial, mostly breast meat production. Between the feed provided by the zookeepers and the endless treats provided by the kids plus his added longevity as a protected zoo resident he’d grown to an enormous size. He was so huge there was no way for him to even see his own feet. I recall my own mother roasting turkeys that were 22 pounds and better, so I would estimate, minus the feathers, that old tom came in at 60-70 lbs.

Maybe he was hungry, maybe lonely; or maybe just curious but, like I said, the old tom just kept following the zookeeper around. He kept getting under foot; much to the annoyance of the zookeeper. Each and every time the zookeeper turned around he’d stumble over this big, fat, tom turkey.

Well, every man has his limits in controlling his temper and the zookeeper reached his. After tripping over that turkey for the umpteenth time he just got mad and hauled off and kicked that turkey just as hard as he could. With a loud THUMP! the keeper’s lower leg made solid contact across the turkey’s breast.

But Old Tom didn’t quiver, didn’t even flinch. You would have thought such a blow would have staggered him or rocked him back at least a bit; but Old Tom just stood there and didn’t even blink. He absorbed the blow as though it never even happened.

I sometimes wonder whatever happened to Old Tom. Even in the Army I’d never seen a Mess Hall oven or a roast pan big enough to accommodate such a huge turkey.


About The Twentieth Man

Age 69
This entry was posted in Humor, Observations, Personal History, Plain English and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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