Bailey Birds

26 Mar

In the late ’60’s or early ’70’s the State of Illinois sponsored the reintroduction of wild turkeys at the state park in my hometown.  The population of turkey grew to become a rather common sight by the early ’80’s. My parents would often drive through the park and my mother’s letters would be filled with reports on the numbers of turkeys and deer they had spotted. Those drives were especially important to my father as his health declined. He was no longer able to hunt as he had most of his life although he had never hunted turkeys.

When the children and I would come back for a visit, drives through the park were part of each day’s activities. The boys and I would often go for a hike though the woods to enjoy the cool quiet or the spectacular views of the river. Mother would wait patiently for us in the car being sure we would see the turkeys. Of course the turkeys didn’t understand that this was a command performance and would rarely make an appearance.  On occasion a flock would make a quick quiet exit as we returned to the car. She would be happily telling the boys which way they had gone and how many there had been. Being my sons, the boys announced that Grandma suffered from turkey disillusions. They decided that “Bailey Birds” were Grandma Bailey’s imaginary turkeys. They drove her nuts (in a nice way) by calling out sightings of the elusive and imaginary birds. Over the years they did actually see wild turkeys but I’m sure if I were to ask either of them today, they would say wild turkeys were part of Grandma’s imagination.

We saw our first Texas wild turkey along the roadside as we drove to Paris recently. Harry didn’t recognize it and was fool enough to ask what it was. Of course I had to reply that it was a Bailey Bird never to be seen again.


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