Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Time to write those Turkey Notes

It’s Thanksgiving time, and that means Turkey Note time!

You may have received Turkey Notes from your kids or grandkids — they’re an eastern Iowa tradition that supposedly originated in Davenport.

If Turkey Notes are new to you, you need an explanation. A Turkey Note, according to a Davenport Public Library website,, “ is a short, three- or four-line poem, using ‘Turkey’ as the first word of the first two lines. Purists use colors for the second word of these first lines, but this is not strictly necessary.

“The poem can be a compliment, an insult or just funny, depending, of course, on your sense of humor. The poem, which is usually left unsigned, is rolled into a tube and wrapped in colored paper, which is tied at both ends with string, yarn or ribbon.”

Turkey Notes then are left by the side of each plate at Thanksgiving dinner or can be passed out to friends or classmates.

According to the library website, Turkey Notes are said to date back to about 1890 and considered to be strictly a local custom.

The site says the origin of Turkey Notes is unknown. One theory is that a large family started them. Another is that German immigrants brought the tradition to Davenport to celebrate their first American holiday. A third theory is that a teacher invented Turkey Notes to keep her students under control prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

“My mother, Genevieve Duffy, made them and taught us to make them, too,” says Katharine Duffy Cook, my second-grade teacher, with whom I reconnected earlier this year on Facebook. “They were given out to classmates, used mostly as Thanksgiving favors and used crepe paper/construction paper for holiday colors. Notes were on white paper.”

Katie – she was “Miss Duffy” when I was 6 years old in her class at Davenport’s Wilson School back in 1955 — says her mother carried the tradition to Creston, Iowa, and family members have spread it as they moved to new locales.

She also says I produced Turkey Notes when I was her student. That would have made her my first writing instructor, something I doubt very much has been noted on her list of teaching achievements.

Now a couple of examples.

A common Turkey Note with a pleasant theme is:

Turkey Red,

Turkey Blue,

Turkey says,

“I love you!”

And one that I remember all these years for some odd reason is:

Turkey Red,

Turkey Blue,

Turkey says,

“Your feet smell, and so do you!”

Now it’s your turn. Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2010 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted to The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa, as an “Everyday People” column.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 20, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,

Nobody asked me, but…..

The grandkids (six of seven of them; Emaline is a newborn and couldn’t make the trip yet) at dinnertime on Thanksgiving.

Dinnertime on Thanksgiving. We all have many blessings.

Nobody asked me, but…..

…..I’m amazed. Yet another public figure is accused of marital infidelity. Lots of it. And, like those before him, he apparently thought he could get by with it. Half a dozen women have now come forward alleging they’ve had affairs with golfer Tiger Woods. It appears he was working on more than his golf game in his free time. Don’t you wonder how long this would have gone on had he not had his car wreck? Will he make the standard public apology to his family and fans like so many public figures do, with his devoted wife standing by her man? Also, why haven’t all of the companies whose products Tiger endorses — like Nike and Gatorade — dumped him already?

…..I think a person can be both polite and assertive at the same time. I remember how a few years ago I was glued to the TV when there was a knock at the door from two Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m an NFL fan, and there was less than a minute to go before kickoff at the Super Bowl. I opened the door, saw who the visitors were and said something like this, “I’m a Christian, I’m happy with my church and the Super Bowl starts in seconds. Have a nice day.” With that I closed the door and hurried back to my LaZBoy.

…..I appreciate humor in everyday life. In November it had been raining and dreary for a couple of days when I ran into my former neighbor, Walcott veterinarian Grant Allison, at the post office. “It will be sunny tomorrow!” he said confidently. “Really?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied. Then he added with a smile: “But I didn’t say in Iowa.”

…..I’m pleased that Eldridge Mayor Brad Noel decided to complete his term and has received a good deal of support and encouragement from many folks as he works through some personal problems. Sure, his difficulties have no doubt been a distraction for him. But I’ve known Brad for a long time and have never once thought he’d let his troubles get in the way of serving Eldridge to the best of his ability.

…..The older I get, the more Thanksgiving means to me. Sure, we all have problems. For many of us, they are just little bumps in the road. For others, they are serious concerns. But we all need to gather with family or friends at least one day a year to remember how many blessings we also have. My wife came up with a neat idea a couple of years ago. At our prayer before dinner as we sit around the table, we all join hands and each person says aloud one thing he or she is thankful for.

…..Every time I read in the paper about another juvenile delinquent getting caught for some misdeed, it occurs to me that school districts need to let teachers drop that boloney about treating little Johnny with kid gloves so as not to damage his self-esteem. I think we need to forget about self-esteem some and let little Johnny know the difference between right and wrong — and that there are consequences for doing wrong. True, teachers shouldn’t have to teach discipline, but some parents certainly aren’t getting the job done.

…..This is the time of year that when a clerk offers the politically correct, “Happy holidays” to me, I delight in answering, “Merry Christmas!”

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This “Everyday People” column appeared in The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2009 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,