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Classic Covers: How to Handle a Turkey

It isn’t just the farmers and poultry truck drivers who have a hard time handling turkeys. Sometimes the big birds were a handful for our cover artists and models. Why did one famous cover artist start “to feel like an assassin”?

Turkey Loose Atop Truck by Constantin Alajalov

Turkey Loose Atop Truck by Constantin Alajalov

Turkey Loose Atop Truck
Constantin Alajalov
November 27, 1948

“When I wanted to sketch turkeys as they look in a crate,” said cover artist Constantin Alajalov, “I found a wholesaler who sells a lot of them. For the turkey on the lam…he said, ‘Take your pick’. Every time I started to sketch a model, somebody bought it and bang, it was a dead bird. I began to feel like an assassin.” Our artist got the delightful Thanksgiving cover done, but said, “For Thanksgiving I may skip turkey…and have hamburger that I’m sure I don’t know, socially.”

Squawking Turkey by Tony Sarg

Squawking Turkey by Tony Sarg

Squawking Turkey
Tony Sarg
November 13, 1915

This youngster managed to catch the turkey, but now what? The boy with arms full of squawking fowl is from 1915.

Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey by Norman Rockwell

Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey by Norman Rockwell

Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey
Norman Rockwell
December 1, 1917

Norman Rockwell painted a lad he called Cousin Reginald, a city slicker. As we’ve shown you before, his mischief-loving country cousins often made a fool of Reginald. Now, we just know those rural boys told Reggie that catching the turkey would be a breeze. They are in the background being royally entertained.

Where’s That Turkey? by Wm. Meade Prince

Where's that Turkey by Wm. Meade Prince

Where';s That Turkey
Wm. Meade Prince
November 1, 1927

This is no dumb Tom Turkey. When someone with an ax is looking for you, hiding is a good option. This colorful cover was painted for the Post’s sister publication, Country Gentleman by artist William Mead Prince.

Pilgrim Stalking Tom Turkey by J.C. Leyendecker

Pilgrim Stalking Tom Turkey by J.C. Leyendecker

Pilgrim Stalking Tom Turkey
J.C. Leyendecker
November 23, 1907

Would you believe this beautiful cover is from 1907? Artist J.C. Leyendecker did much more than paint ridiculously handsome men for Arrow Shirt ads. He did more Saturday Evening Post covers than any other artist. One of the earliest, and smartest, acts of George Horace Lorimer after taking charge of the Post was to hire J.C. Leyendecker to do a cover in 1899. Between then and 1943, Leyendecker did 322 Post covers, one more than Norman Rockwell. To honor his mentor, Rockwell chose to do one fewer cover.

Thanksgiving by J.F. Kernan

Thanksgiving by J.F. Kernan

Thanksgiving
J.F. Kernan
November 24. 1923

There’s an old myth that if you sprinkle salt on a turkey’s tail, you can catch it. Also, if you sprinkle pepper on a hen’s tail, she will lead you to her nest. These tricks may work, but only because if you’re close enough to sprinkle salt on a turkey’s tail, you’re close enough to catch it anyway and if you pepper a hen’s tail, she’ll probably get disgusted with you and stalk off….back to her nest.

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  • Frank James Davis

    A superior group of covers. Not a “turkey” in the batch.

  • mario irabagon

    you don’t thank friends and strangers only for favors done by them;; you hold your special thankfulness to the Lord or giving you the chance and the space to live in this planet.