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Northern Days Gone By: A foul fowl

The management of the company my father worked for made a most surprising announcement. Everyone was going to receive a frozen turkey as a gift. This was a most unusual gesture. We awaited the arrival of the frozen bird. It was a large bird, close to 25 pounds.

We had to keep the bird frozen since Thanksgiving was two weeks away. Where would we put it? Our refrigerator did not have a freezer compartment large enough for it. Fortunately, my parents had rented locker space at the Locker Plant. People would rent freezer space in the Locker Plant. Each family would receive a key for the locked drawer that they rented. The drawers varied in size. Most people did not have their own chest freezer or a refrigerator freezer large enough to hold large amounts. Therefore, they rented freezer space. I helped my father bring the frozen bird to the Locker Plant, and we carried it up several floors. It was so cold, even in the halls. Hallways echoed. We got to our own locked freezer drawer. My father pulled the freezer drawer open and had to rearrange the several packages of frozen beef already in this drawer, to make room for this huge bird. The Locker Plant was so cold it stung the nose. If I remember correctly, Bridgeman Russel produced frozen popsicles in that facility as well as their ice cream. Walking in the building everything made an echo, for we were the only ones in the public freezing section.

The time to fetch the frozen turkey had arrived, and we brought it to my mother who had to make room in the refrigerator for the bird to fit and thaw. The whole family, at least 20, was invited to the meal. Aunts and cousins were bringing food items to share at this feast.

The evening before Thanksgiving Day, as the bird thawed, my mother was shocked by a foul odor. It was most unpleasant. Could it be that the turkey was spoiled? My father could hardly believe it. Yes, clearly the turkey was spoiled. It had thawed on its journey and refrozen and that covered the odor of the spoiled bird. The bird was thrown out. But the next day was Thanksgiving Day.

Panic set in. The family was arriving the next day, and all the grocery stores were closed. There was not a chance of obtaining another turkey, fresh or frozen. What would we do?

My parents phoned the one place that would be open on Thanksgiving Day, Kentucky Fried Chicken. They ordered several buckets, and we drove off to obtain them before the afternoon meal. Well that Thanksgiving Day still sticks in my mind as the one we had fried chicken and no turkey. Everyone had a good laugh and a good meal. But that was the last time my father or any employee in that organization ever received a frozen gift.

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