Remembering a Texas Thanksgiving

wild turkeyGrowing up in Denison, Texas, I remember a particular Thanksgiving when I was about 14. Our family had moved into the Cotton Mill District to be close to my grandparents on my mother’s side. They were life long farmers from Oklahoma, and raised chickens, pigs, hunting hounds, and even had a large garden. We celebrated many holidays inside their small house on DuBois Street, but to accommodate the many relatives, many of us were outside until it was meal time. This particular Thanksgiving had a large turn out that included several aunts, uncles, and cousins, on my mother’s side. My uncle on my father’s side also showed up. Uncle Reuben had served in the army for over 10 years at this point. He was a quiet, reserved, man with solemn German manners, who listened much more than he talked. Two of my other uncles (mother’s side) were the complete opposite, and one who was a non-drinker, mainly because his wife was Church Of Christ, loved to brag about his superior knowledge. He became the target of a cruel plot. My family lived next door to him, and after lunch, my father, his brother, and the other uncle who was fond of whiskey, decided to invite the pain-in-the-ass uncle to partake in Uncle Rueben’s Thanksgiving gift, a fifth of Wild Turkey.

Somehow, they talked to non-drinking uncle to walk to our house and help them drink the entire bottle in order to prove his manhood. Non-drinker was quickly drunk and getting queasy. Rather than puke the turkey up at our house, he decided to go home, by climbing the wire fence that separated our houses. To their utter amusement, he got his feet tangled up in the wire and fell onto his property hitting his head, just as his wife pulled the family car into their drive. Horror struck, my aunt dragged him inside as he vomited and jerked the entire way. It was a bad time and our two families did not talk for a month or so.

Non-drinker got even with my dad a month later. He drove a utility stake in the middle of our drive with an orange ribbon atop, claiming the City Of Denison had re-surveyed their properties and were moving the utility pole to the center of our drive way. When my father came home and saw the stake, my uncle came right out of his house to tell him the news. My father’s temper exploded and my uncle let him stew all night before he told the truth.

All of them are dead now, but the story lives on. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and maybe a story or two. I dedicate this song to their memory.

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