Sloan Column: June the turkey decides it’s time to trot
Last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, the stage was set for a most memorable and merciful occasion - the official state-recognized pardoning of June the Turkey.
Custodians and lawn maintenance workers at the Carolinian Retirement Community in Florence had the place looking in top form. Community Relations Director Brad Richardson was looking quite dapper in a gray plaid suit. A handful of residents waited with great anticipation of the big event while resting comfortably in rocking chairs. Even S.C. Rep. Phillip Lowe, carrying with him an official “Certificate of Pardon,” was in attendance.
The day would have been perfect, except for one small thing – the guest of honor was nowhere to be found.
Kyle and Abby Atkinson of Sandhills Farm in Johnsonville had agreed to offer one of their birds for pardoning. June turned out to be the most fortunate of the gobblers. The Atkinsons checked on June and their other seven turkeys Tuesday evening before retiring. To their astonishment, when they checked the coop just after sunrise on Wednesday the birds were nowhere to be found.
It seems June and her feathered friends were unaware of the pardoning and thought she or they were headed to the chopping block and then to the dinner table. One can imagine the conversation that took place between the inmates of the coop on Tuesday evening.
Tom: Okay, so we all know what time of year it is and we know what’s at stake – our necks. The farmer and his wife were out here earlier and I think they’re getting one of us ready to “take a ride” tomorrow morning, if you know what I mean. We gotta do something.
June: Oh my! They did look at me an awful lot. Do you think … ?
George: Don’t get your feathers in a ruffle, Junie. We ain’t gonna let nothin’ happen to yas. Ain’t none of us gonna end up swimmin’ in no gravy if I’ve got anything to do with it.
Red: If we hang around, one of us is gonna be in the fryer just a quick as you can say “Butterball.”
Tom: George and Red are right. We gotta make a break for it. It’s now or never. Unless we wanna be dancing partners with the cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes, it’s time for us to fly the coop. Who’s with me?
Ed: Ain’t nobody snappin’ my wishbone.
June: You boys are my heroes.
Ted: Okay, so here’s the plan. Ed, you be the lookout. George and I are gonna bust through the gate and hightail it to the woods. They rest of you shake a tail feather and follow right behind us. We’ll lay low for the time being and figure what to do next.
Despite June having flown the coop with her friends, the pardon went on as planned. Kyle and Abby brought a hen and rooster as replacement birds. S.C. Rep. Lowe brought with him a stuffed turkey in tow. No, not that kind - the taxidermist kind.
An official statement was read and June, unbeknownst to her, avoided the ax for at least another year.
During the event, the Atkinsons got word that June and her friends had returned to the coop. When asked about June’s fate when they returned home, they admitted capital punishment was out of the question since she had been pardoned.
They did, however, say that June might just spend a few days in solitary confinement.