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Tag: turkey

Reagan and the “Turkey Bird”

Today’s post is by Duke Blackwood, Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Follow them on their Facebook page.

One normally doesn’t associate turkeys with flying.  However, in 1966 they became synonymous with flight during Ronald Reagan’s first race for political office—Governor of California. Covering such a large state was advance man Curtis Patrick’s nightmare, as Reagan was reticent to fly and preferred to drive. But it soon became a necessity for the candidate to fly.

Enter Mervin Amerine, a former B-29 Superfortress pilot turned turkey farmer who had three DC-3 aircraft capable of ferrying up to 48,000 live baby turkeys per plane to various destinations.

The DC-3 was a workhorse in World War II, which made it well suited for flying to remote campaign locations that often did not have paved runways.  Being a huge fan of Mr. Reagan, Amerine offered one of his planes to the campaign. Of course, only after he had cleaned it up and added 28 seats.

On a bright and beautiful day in the idyllic town of Calistoga, California, Patrick introduced Ronald Reagan to Amerine on a weed-infested gravel runway. With the press corps in tow, they all boarded this now-glistening aircraft for the inaugural flight to Angel’s Camp. Adding an air of sophistication was Mrs. Amerine, who served as the plane’s stewardess.

Buckled in for safety, all … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Truman and the no-turkey Thursday

What do you if you love Thanksgiving but it falls on a day when you can’t eat turkey? In 1947, President Truman faced an awkward dilemma.

Truman took up the office of President during World War II, but even after the war ended, the plight of the Europeans was on his mind. Americans were still urged to conserve food so that more could be sent to the hungry and needy in a war-devastated Europe.

Part of this effort involved not eating poultry on Thursdays. Of course, this presented a problem for President Truman on the fourth Thursday of November in 1947.

Certainly, Truman could have tried a drastic move and declared Thanksgiving to be held that Friday instead. However, Thanksgiving had barely recovered from a firestorm of controversy that started in 1939.

Before that fateful Thursday in 1939, the American people had followed the 1863 proclamation of Abraham Lincoln and faithfully celebrated a day of Thanksgiving on the last week of November. But in 1939, President Roosevelt had attempted to move the date up by a week to the fourth Thursday. It was a disaster, with 32 states accepting the date change and 16 states refusing. For two years, there were two Thanksgivings on two different Thursdays.

Having the entire country disagree over when to celebrate the national holiday was obviously not going to work out, and Congress stepped in. On October 6, … [ Read all ]