The Two Times President Reagan's Turkeys Went Bonkers

November 26, 2014 2:02 PM

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It was President Ronald Reagan’s first Thanksgiving in the White House, in 1981, when he stepped out toward the lawn where a special turkey was waiting for him. He sauntered confidently down the steps, swinging his arms into a full handshake with fowl farmer Hugh McClain — when, suddenly, the turkey began to flail its wings wildly, white feathers all aflutter. Ducking away from the bird like a chef dodging oil sparks from a stove-cooked meal, Reagan watched as handlers placated the finicky fowl.

Reagan’s turkey wasn’t visiting the White House to be pardoned: for all it knew, it could have been a future dinner, which explains its angst. In 1981, the official presidential pardon hadn’t ever been offered, though presidents had spared turkeys before. Abraham Lincoln’s son Tad is said to have be...

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