Wednesday, November 5, 2008

R.I.P Wilson

Over a year ago, on an old myspace blog, I wrote about an encounter I had with a turkey on the corner of Petersburg and Stringtown.
Thud...whack...gobble...gobble...thud" went the turkey that fell out of the sky and onto the hood of my car! "Ahhhhhhh...its a bird, its a turkey bird, Ahhhhh" I screamed, as the discombobulated bird rolled off my hood. It regained footing and the thing began running circles in the middle of the busy intersection. Horrified by the rather shocking experience I sat stunned as the suicidal creature ran about in front of me. Out of nowhere, a man in wrangler jeans and cowboy boots appeared and began chasing after the bird with a lasso down the street. Yee-haw, I was not expecting front row seats to the Turkey rodeo at 7:30 in the morning. Praise the Lord the poor bird got away safely! I was late to class on a test day over this incident and had some explaining to do to my unhappy professor. Thankfully, she was from the North side of town and well aware of the turkey in the area known as "Wilson" that often backs up traffic.."
Today I received sad news that the beloved bird that resides along Petersburg and Stringtown is no longer with us. The local newspaper did a lovely write up on his behalf.

Wilson the turkey dies in traffic

Wilson the turkey, who for nearly three years made it a habit to disrupt traffic in a North Side neighborhood, was struck and killed by a car after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The irony, said one bystander, was that Wilson — who had many staunch supporters and a few detractors who wished he’d go away — died on Election Day.

He got the name Wilson from children on a school bus who thought his fussy manner reminded them of Mr. Wilson of “Dennis the Menace” fame.

And it’s because of those kids that Connell Jones and his neighbors on nearby Feltman Drive are planning a memorial service “to celebrate Wilson’s life and scatter his ashes on Feltman.” The memorial service will be at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Feltman and Petersburg Road.

Jones said Best Friend Pet Crematorium has offered to cremate Wilson free of charge.

Jones said Wilson showed up on Feltman, a dead-end road near a busy intersection where Stringtown, Campground and Petersburg roads meet in a Y, after a big storm.

“The next morning I woke up and told my wife, ‘That sounds like a turkey.’ She said, ‘We don’t have turkeys around here.’ ”

Before long, Wilson was roosting on Jones’ garage roof and neighbors had made him a “community pet” and were feeding him grapes, apples and birdseed, said Jones.

While some claimed Wilson waded into traffic hoping motorists would throw him some food, Jones said the tom just liked bright colors, including school buses and “my wife’s yellow VW.” He also liked his reflection in bumpers and chrome.

“I’m going to miss him, he brought customers to my store,” said Jim Snyder, manager of the Kangaroo Express at the three-way stop.

Snyder said people would arrive, park and come inside for a soft drink while waiting to see if Wilson showed up during the morning rush hour. Some took pictures and videos and shouted “Hi, Wilson.”

Snyder said a police officer notified him that someone had placed Wilson’s body next to the store’s Dumpster. Snyder said he put Wilson inside the Dumpster, but later some residents of Feltman Drive “came and got him.”

Jones said what happened Tuesday probably was inevitable. Wilson had been clipped by a car last year and had trouble walking for a while.

“It’s a sad day,” agreed Dennis Jon Bailey, who anchors radio station WIKY’s morning show with Diane Douglas. WIKY listeners would call Bailey and Douglas with Wilson sightings. WIKY plans a tribute Wednesday morning.

“He was always holding up traffic,” recalled Snyder. “A police officer tried to shoo him one day and Wilson chased him back into the store.”

He said it was amusing to watch people get out of vehicles and chase Wilson: “He’d circle their car. When two people chased him, he’d do figure eights around their vehicles.”

Mike Robinson, on motorcycle patrol for the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Department, encountered Wilson on a regular basis.

He said the turkey wasn’t dumb and was “quite interested in his own reflection.”

If Robinson aimed his motorcycle’s mirror toward Wilson and drove slowly, the turkey would trot alongside. “I got him to follow me all the way to Engelbrecht Orchard,” Robinson said recently, before Wilson died, “but he didn’t stay there.”

Wilson apparently was too fond of his old neighborhood where his fans called him “an icon.”

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