Turkey Suprise

White turkey_resizedRiding along Rt 20 from Geneva NY to Austinburg OH, I had a destination in mind that was 20 miles short of my hotel. The

“White Turkey Drive-in.” Family owned since 1952, it is famous for it’s shredded white meat turkey sandwich and a root beer float.  
It was a long day of riding. The ride I am on can’t be judged by how many miles per day I ride. Because I have decided to ride the country roads of our American past, the going can be slow, so the best way to judge my westward progress is by how many hour a day I ride.  This day was 7 hours with helmet on. So when I saw the sign “enter here for the White Turkey Drive-In, there was a smile on my face as I down shifted, turned on the right hand blinker and turned into my dream destination. I was not disappointed.  Here it was, a small building with a square open air counter. In the back was a picnic pavilion with tables and a covered area for everything you might want to put on a shredded white meat turkey sandwich on a bun no less! Truth be known they also served hamburgers, cheeseburgers  etc…well you understand. But if you believe in America and you can possibly comprehend that there was actually a year  numbered 1952, then you are only interested in the turkey sandwich. (best description it is like the comfort sandwich you made the day after Thanksgiving on your favorite bread with a little mayo. Yes I said it mayo.) Ok back to the story!

I was eating my turkey, reminder of my mom’s turkey leftover sandwich, when a man walked  up   and said “great bike.”  I said thanks and he explained that he rode motorcycles since the late 50’s but decided to stop. I asked why and he held up his hands. His fingers were bent from arthritis. And he said in an almost apologetic tone , “can’t do it anymore…not safe.”  I admitted that I might be a little too old and running out of reaction time  to be riding 10,000 miles. We had a good laugh together…one of knowing what it’s like to be living a book that we  are turning the pages on a little to fast for comfort. Well we went through a memory lane of great bikes we have ridden…Honda 305’s, Norton’s, Triumph’s…he even talked about a Scout! We exchanged opinions about the qualities of each and laughed about how in 1966 a 750cc bike was “badass!”  At this point his wife and their female friend were sitting at a table in the pavilion waiting for him to join them so they could eat. I said hey good talking to you, go enjoy your dinner.  He thanked me and said “yes I better join the ladies.”  But He couldn’t resist  asking  about my ride. I explained how I was riding 10,000 miles solo to raise money to build specially adapted homes for our vets. That being said, we continued to talk for another half hour about the merits of belt drive, chain drive and shaft drive. I must tell you that if you are over 65 and have ridden them all, a great turkey sandwich can only lead to one winner..shaft drive. Dependable, quiet and low maintenance. About  all us old guys can handle at this point.  Finally, or so I thought, he shook my hand, wished me a safe ride and joined the ladies at the picnic table. So I swung my leg over the saddle, put on my helmet and prepared to leave. Looking back to wave goodbye, I saw my old time “new friend” curling his finger and gesturing for me to come over to his table. Ok ,I turned off the bike, took off my helmet and got off the bike .I walked over to where they were seated. He then handed me  two $5.00 bills and said this is for our warriors. I could not thank him enough. I took the money and asked for their names so I could post it on the website and give them the recognition that they deserved for their donation.  My new old friend said “no list it under your name..after all you are doing all the work. ” And then he added and you are taking a big chance out there on the road riding a motorcycle. I smiled and said “nothing to worry about.” It was at that moment  that I remembered saying those  very same words to my dad the night before I left for Vietnam. When you are 19 years old and find yourself ready to serve your country, once in combat, you learn the “white turkey surprise.”  The surprise is that everything that gave you comfort, family moments, time with friends, spending summers with all of life’s possibilities in front of you and your mom’s great leftover “white turkey sandwich” can be take away from you in an instant. I think in the end that together “we are doing all the work.”


  1. Brian Seno says:

    Very moving story and I do believe you nailed it! It is the simple that matters the most, that to which I always return when the storm clouds of life settle overhead.

  2. Another amazing journey! Following you! xo mimi

Leave a Comment