Thanksgiving Urban Legend
“As with the Sasquatch, Loch Ness Monster, balanced federal budgets and other elusive entities, legend and speculation must necessarily take the place of fact,” wrote Professor (Ret.) Wesley Wimscott in a 2009 paper entitled ‘Gobblesquatch: Giant Drumsticks or Dumb Shticks?’, submitted to the international symposium on Paranormal History, Sightings, Stories and Wonders (PHSSAW).

His lengthy report centred mostly on the oral history of Native American tribes of the area now known as Virginia. “It’s the logical place to commence,” he wrote in the foreword, “Since one of the nations endemic to the region were called the Catawba, which means ‘Feather as Long as a Tree’ in that language.”

Mr. Wimscott also points out that the Cherokee of pre-colonial times wore ceremonial costumes which included gourds dyed brown, tied together with long strings of deer sinew, and then worn around the neck to dangle “in the manner of giant wattles.”

His paper also recounts the Powhatan legend of KahYuhKeh, or Giant Dropping of Death, an ancient tribal story about the tribe’s first chief, who set off for the mountains to fast for fifteen days and fifteen nights to hear the gods’ suggestions for ending a drought, but was killed by a falling liquid bomb at dusk when running excitedly home and passing under the branches of a huge tree.

Professor Wimscott, whose research is pooh-poohed by Gobblesquatch doubters, ended his paper with a thoughtful contention that our modern Thanksgiving is actually adapted from Native American customs of the day, which included one day a year when the plumpest wild turkeys of the day were rounded up, butchered, and stacked as high as possible.

“Much as at Sun Foods today,” he wrote, “But the Virginia nations were more concerned with keeping the dreaded Gobblesquatch at bay.”

Sadly, his research is virtually impossible to access today. His paper was classified as Ultra-Secret by PHSSAW (Pending Verification), and Professor Wimscott disappeared in the Blue Ridge Mountains while searching for the Gobblesquatch in October, 2010. His last diary entry read, “Found a nest. Measured fourteen by twelve and a half feet. Will infiltrate. As an egg.”

Materials found later at his campsite included cuttings of half-inch white Styrofoam, which geo-engineers have calculated could not withstand more than fifty-three pounds of pressure from – say – a sitting bird.

Still, there are even better reasons to believe that a mammoth turkey somehow roamed the wooded hills of the Blue Ridge in the near past. A young settler named Ezekiel Fitzgerald was hanged in 1672. Surviving judicial records note that the unfortunate Ezekiel “hath overwrought heresy in Proclamation most dire; to wit: that his eyes layed upon a creature of wing-span greater than the throne of the Almighty.”

As a youngster in 1750, Thomas Jefferson was sent home from school with a note that read, in part: “…continuous usage of such non-existent words as Gobbledygook and inter-racial…”

Jefferson historians have pointed out that Gobbledygook was a local Virginian word referring to those who doubted the existence of a giant gobbler in the Blue Ridge Mountains. (They have no idea about the provenance of the other word the future president purportedly used.)

In the mid nineteenth century, the Virginia Lumber Company abandoned plans to clear-cut Mount Mitchell. An 1861 report from foreman Sid Sawer cited “frightening falsetto rumblings that set the men a-feared at night, constant thunder as of giant beating wings, and unclearable mounds of white-stained excrement beneath the branches of the most desirable trees.”

In 1901, Wilbur and Orville Wright were researching the airplane by studying birds in flight, and spent three months in the wild mountains of Virginia. Ignored by most historians, it is nevertheless an interesting fact that their first flying prototype was developed in 1903, and was named The Warbler. The ungainly aircraft featured an immense flapping wingspan and sepia-coloured gourds draped over the fuselage, and plans were soon abandoned.

Facts aside, however, fantastic stories of the Gobblesquatch persist until about the middle of the twentieth century.

– In 1927, European historian Dillard ‘Dullard’ Densemore published his seminal work ‘How Nations are Named’. While roundly discounted by experts, his theory that Mustafa Pashi was actually a very nomadic Cherokee who founded and named the sprawling nation of Turkey after a long stint in North America is an interesting part of the Gobblesquatch legend.

– In February of 1942, thirty-seven recruits sought to avoid war service by hiding in the hills of Virginia. In April of that same year, thirty-three of the AWOL soldiers finally reported for duty, all reportedly claiming that not even the German Air Force could drop anything “as vile as those birds do.”

– In May of 1967, a Virginia hippie commune became the first to swear off marijuana use. “We toke up on green tea now,” explained founder Zeke ‘Zapper’ Sternbaum to Time Magazine. “That stuff was making us see huge turkeys that pecked holes in our VW camper and swallowed our sleeping bags whole.”

It is not yet clear why Gobblesquatch stories have abated over the last forty years. Among believers, it is thought that a cataclysmic event may have chased the giant gobbler from its original haunts and towards the American northwest, where it may have aligned itself with the equally elusive Sasquatch; a pairing that may have been previously established in the early 1800’s. Thomas Jefferson’s fascination with the creature never abated and under the guise of an “expedition to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography”, then President Jefferson commissioned a team led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to hunt the beast down, which they did all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

But it is clear that native Virginians maintain a wary respect of the giant bird that may recently have defaced its forests.

In previously censored transcripts from the Space Shuttle’s 2008 mission, Virginia native and NASA astronaut Leland Melvin is heard marvelling from space: “Geezum…look at the Great Lake from up here. Looks like a giant claw print from Gobblesquatch, and it’s heading west.”

More info and recent sightings at www.gobblesquatch.com

Dave DeAndrea from North Bend, OR