World Traveler

“Robert, tell me your stories, about marching south and fighting the rebels down there in Virginia, ‘cause it ain’t fair, I ain’t never been farther than Montpelier.”

“Well, Thomas, that’s as far as I ever want to go again; I reckon Montpelier’s got to be the finest, prettiest city in the world, but if you want a story, I’ll tell you about the time I marched with an army all the way to the city of Boston.”

“I thought Boston was of the Republic, what’d you go there for?

“It was before the war; I was about the age you are now when I helped drive an army of turkeys, thousands of them, to market in Boston, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that trip.”

“I want to do that, I want to drive turkeys all the way to Boston!”

Robert, falling into one of his weary silences, wished that Thomas could have that experience, but sometimes he felt the world of 1865 was changing faster than a steam train, faster than messages racing along a telegraph wire, and that feeling worried him as much as any of the other worries he’d yet carried in his twenty-one years.


 Unknown.jpegRemember Robert?  He might have been of an age to take part in one of the many great turkey drives that were common in Vermont in the first half of the 19th century.

The Six Sentence Story prompt from GirlieOntheEdge this week is “drive”. Get your ink to the link, or just head over there to read six sentence stories.   


31 thoughts on “World Traveler

  1. I have respect for Robert. The idea of a turkey drive, which I am assuming is (or was) a ‘real thing’ is pretty awe-inspiring. It surely must have been as difficult as a seven-year-old boy trying to carry three-too-many marbles in bare hands.
    We’ve watched rafters of turkeys come out of the woods and move across our back and side yards, which is surely no where near the scale of what would justify a ‘drive’.
    But land sakes alive! They are surely not the brightest of God’s creatures. And they augment their lack of smarts with an attitude that would make a 19th Century suffragette despair. (I am now exceeding the scope of what was intended to be, ‘Hey! Good Post’ comment, straying as I am into the IQ of wild fowl and the qualities of certain gender-based social orders.)
    That being said, I claim Right of ‘thats what a good Six will do to ya’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Turkey drives were a real thing. It was the way to get the birds to market in the day. And yes, there were problems, like when they decided to just stop and sleep in the covered bridges because it was dark in there. There were so many that roosting was an issue because of the combined weight. They only made about ten or twelve miles a day. There is a link in my intro.
      Yo, thanks, as ever.


    • Yes, it would have been quite an undertaking, herding turkeys, but it was a thing. I am most curious about that coming into the city. I will investigate further. Someday. That march is one that Robert would rather remember, now that he is home from the war.

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  2. I never knew that turkey drives were a ‘thing’. Very cool! I liked this story: the exuberance of youth balanced with the weariness of experience. It’s weird being an age where you think back to the way things used to be, it leaves one unsettled.

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  3. How very interesting! I didn’t know about this piece of history. Just this morning I saw a post on FB of a tom turkey standing on a highway with his feathers all spread out as his “harem” crossed the road. He stood there stopping traffic for them, sort of speak.

    Thanks for taking me back in time with your SSS.

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    • It is amazing how many wild turkeys there are around now. I think these drives were pretty much a Vermont thing and would have been more common and robust before the trains. I am not sure it’d be a great thing to live along the route, but what a sight.


  4. Surprise! Historical fictional 6. Nice 🙂
    You had me curious from the beginning. I too had never heard of a turkey drive so thank you! I will add that to the miscellany books.( I can’t begin to imagine the challenges of that endeavor.)
    Each generation has the same worries – about changes, good, bad, the feeling of being “left behind”…

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was a surprise! I thought I was all done with Robert, but as I was wondering how I might use “drive” I remembered the VT turkey drives, and he returned. The end I hadn’t planned on, but recall this young man who was part of the Grand Army of the Republic has seen a lot more besides turkeys marching to their last suppers in Boston, so his choice of stories and his weariness made sense to me.


  5. Never heard of a turkey drive but my mother grew up on a turkey ranch in California where the free ranged. I have a photo of it which might give you an idea of the scope of such a drive. It’s fun discovering forgotten bits of history. Robert expresses a worry each generation does when they experience drastic change. The social, familial and technological fabric of the US was never again the same, and the changes were so massive as to be disconcerting. Good to see Robert asking his turn to be let out of your head.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Against the Window | ShiftnShake

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