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Texas Turkeys: 1939

Texas Turkeys: 1939

November 1939. "Selected turkeys on the racks awaiting shipment. Cooperative poultry house in Brownwood, Texas." Medium format negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Another Depression dead turkey yarn

In the 1930s my grandfather was a county agent and professor of agriculture at Mississippi State. A lot of his job involved keeping the hard-pressed local farms solvent through very bad times.

His research efforts convinced him that local farmers could make a bit of cash on the side by raising a few turkeys and shipping them north for the holidays (holidays for the Yankees, not the turkeys).

A bunch of farmers quickly formed a sort of cooperative and started raising the birds, and toward the end of the year they hired a whole boxcar and sent them off to Chicago. The boxcar was shunted off to a siding somewhere along the way, the turkeys all froze to death, and they were then discarded. Utter disaster.

The next year a new platoon of turkeys was ready and the co-op placed a potbellied stove and a determined farmer in the boxcar to supervise things. At last, the scheme was successful.

Just wondering

Did they cover their heads before killing 'em or after?

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