132 Turkeys Cooked at Fish and Game

December 6, 2013

by Len Lathrop

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”  Douglas Adams

The Hudson Fish and Game Club delivered Thanksgiving Dinners to those in the area who asked for a meal.  This year, this small group provided 1,779 meals to those who asked, with the help of many volunteers from the community and many local businesses that donated products and funds to support this effort.

Our pictures and stories over the many years have shown that this great group of people can, and do serve, more and more meals each year.  This year, we will show the meals and the great volunteers working Wednesday night and Thanksgiving morning to get them out the door.

But new this year, the Hudson~Litchfield News was allowed a photograph that has eluded us for the 15 years that we have covered this event.  This year, the club members agreed to a group picture.  It was 10 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.  Six hundred and fifty pounds of potatoes had been cooked and mashed, as well as equal amounts of butternut squash and sweet potatoes.  Countless pounds of stuffing had been made from scratch from 300 pounds of ground beef and sausages and 50 pounds of potatoes.  Pans of gravy that took two men to carry simmered on the stove.  It took over two hours to cook a 60-quart pot of butternut squash and it was done at 7 a.m.  The pans are big enough to hold two small children!  The side dishes were mashed and mixed with butter, with the aid of a four-foot long beater/stirrer powered by a one horsepower drill.  The dedicated club members had been there since 5 a.m., if they had not spent the night there.

Being there Wednesday at 3 p.m., the number of turkeys cut totaled 132.  The dark turkey meat was pulled into bite size pieces and the breasts were sliced into quarter inch portions.  More aluminum buffet trays than you care to count were stored for the next morning.  In the indoor firing range, there were people with peelers who came to volunteer and most likely left with some very sore hands and arms.  Peeling and cutting is a very hard job!  Watching the different clubs, including the Junior Rifle Team, Girls Scouts and Alvirne Swimming Team members learning to handle a peeler or knife is amazing.  By the time they left, they must have had a new understanding of how many sweet potatoes it takes to fill a 60-quart pot.

If it seems that everything starts on Wednesday, don’t be misled.  It was overheard Wednesday night while working the turkey line, that one of the Junior Rifle Team’s adult leaders mentioned that after practice earlier in the week, they had taken apart the indoor range and washed the walls and floor getting ready for the Thanksgiving event.

The CEO of this annual operation for last 25 years is Karen Knox, who keeps trying to pass the title and duties to her daughter, Tammi Curran.  Tammi has computerized the system so every bag is labeled and may include special instructions for the driver, such as which door to go to at the home.  While both mother and daughter shy away from the spotlight, similar to the club members working in the Well Cover (the club’s official hang out), they both work for months on the Thanksgiving project.  One club member spoke about the club now needing a trailer storage area just to keep track of the pots and pans needed to feed all the people.  Karen undertook the leadership in 1988.  She mentioned that in 1989 her grandson, Craig Curran, made his first Thanksgiving appearance; of course, it was from a backpack as he was only 8 months old.  He has never known any other Thanksgiving than that spent at the club.  He now makes sure that the bags are correct before they leave.  Karen’s granddaughter, Shelby Monas, who also started on day one in a backpack, was excited this year because she could be a delivery driver and bring meals to the people.  Her grandmother mentioned that she handpicked the stops for Shelby and seemed as excited as the new driver.

This report started with a quote that ends with the words, sincerity and integrity.  Having been at the Well Cover early Thursday morning, the one thing that the club members wanted to be sure of was that there was a Thumbs Up in the paper that thanked everybody who helped make this Thanksgiving event so special.  More than one member requested the Thumbs Up to thank everyone involved.  These men and women, who you might or might not know, worked tirelessly to make this event a huge success.  They gave up sleep and time with their families during the holiday.  Never once did anyone hear anything other than to be sure to thank everyone involved with the club’s Thanksgiving event.  It was sincere, and their integrity could not be questioned.  Everything was selflessly done for those who needed these meals.  The meals are only a small symbol of the goodness that happens every day when people are looking out for others.