Walk into MFA Oil and Propane, just south of Union, and you’re sure to notice the mounted turkey hanging on the wall. “Turkey,” as he’s commonly known, is the pet project of office staffers Sherry Kloeppel and Jenny Hansel, coworkers who adopted the refurbished oddity.
The turkey was in “fowl” shape when Marvin, one of the MFA drivers discovered it on a dark, lonely county road several years ago. That big bird, his skinny, clawed feet mounted to a sturdy limb, was just lying there. The cast-off could have caused an accident, Marvin said.
Poor thing had about lost its head. His pointed, blue face was turned skew-whiff and hanging on by a wishbone.
“He could see coming and going,” Sherry said with a smile, something she does a lot of when she talks turkey.
Marvin didn’t toss the tom. Instead he kept it in his garage for a year or so before taking it to the office where Sherry and Jenny took pity on the gobbler. They refused to let the bird give up the ghost. Rather than call Ghostbusters they summoned Ray. He’s Sherry’s husband and by trade, a taxidermist, owner of, what else — Ray’s Taxidermy.
Ray believes the bird took the brunt of its fall on its noggin. The stuffing specialist had his hands full, but it was no hill for the stepper. Pretty soon “Turkey” was looking as good as new, but kind of down-home, country natural. Until Sherry and Jenny began dressing him to the nines, changing his “outfits with the seasons.”
Currently, “Turkey” is in full Christmas regalia, complete with gold granny glasses and a colorful, lighted star, which is perfect because he hangs on the east wall. Wise girls those MFA staffers.
There is a bit of dissension in the ranks regarding “Turkey’s” present getup. Sherry thinks Jenny might have overdressed him for the holidays — perhaps it’s the beads she finds distasteful, but they are authentic. Sherry and Ray brought them back from Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Early on, “Turkey” began sporting glasses and hats. He’s got a green bowler from Pat O’Brien’s for St. Pat’s Day, a pink crown, cowboy hat, devil horns, an Uncle Sam top hat, Mexican sombrero, Hawaiian leis, and star-shaped sunglasses. The glasses are a necessity.
“Sometimes it appears that ‘Turkey’ is staring straight at me,” Jenny said, all because of where her desk sets.
In actuality, their feathered friend owes Jenny a debt of gratitude. Whenever she has the chance, she zips by a store in St. Louis to buy the tom a trendy hat or accessory.
“Turkey” draws quite a lot of interest, and repeat visitors curious to see how he’s dressed for the day. Festive, for certain, he’s the source of many a comment. Some folks really like him, others feel “Turkey” must be humiliated — after all he is a tom, a tough, macho bird with a beard forced to become a cross dresser and forever gaze in Jenny’s direction, right over the top of the gals’ pet rock.
Yes, they have one, another pickup — this one from the parking lot. The small, white rock’s origin is as much of a mystery as “Turkey’s.”
One of the MFA drivers found it. On one side the rock has three black marks that look like a happy face, with two eyes and a mouth. On the other, Sherry and Jenny added two eyes and a sad face. You can imagine what side usually faces up in this carefree office where “Turkey” is king, and having fun at work is the rule rather than the exception.
Having a sense of humor is a quality Sherry inherited from her father, who passed away earlier this year. “He believed laughter makes everything better,” Sherry said. And Jenny couldn’t agree more.