Happy Thanksgiving! Another serving of Turkey Notes, please!

‘Tis the time of the year to warm our fingers, loosen our tongues and sharpen our minds to craft a delightful turkey note. Turkey notes are an annual tradition in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. Like many activities observed and dishes made, the turkey note has its stalwart fans and its fierce detractors. Are you curious about the history of this turkey-themed poem? We have a number of blogs about this poem including a few that touch on its story such as in our “Turkey Notes” blog post.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we also got the curiosity bug about these silly poems. In searching our Davenport newspapers, we discovered a few articles about the “turkey note” we would like to share with you all.

In 1937, Harry Downer, the author of History of Davenport and Scott County, Iowa and a number of other titles about Davenport, received an astoundingly long turkey note measuring 3 feet long comprising 76 different verses. The poems touched on topics ranging from autumn landscapes to scenes from the Friendly House playroom. The article shared one of the poems in this epic turkey note opus. It is a fun thought to ponder what the other poems contain.

“Downer Receives ‘Turkey Note’ 3 Feet Long,” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 26, 1937, 9.

This seemingly unrelated article to our topic notes captures an interesting trend in the 1930s to announce a recently engaged couple’s wedding date through the medium of the turkey note. A party was held at the bride’s home located at 1923 College Avenue where the announcement of Miss Gladys Hilbert and Mr. Wilfred Blaser’s engagement and the wedding date was formally made. In attendance were a few of Gladys’ friends who enjoyed, “an evening of games. There were covers for eight laid at the dinner table where the green and gold bridal colors were in decoration, with individual miniature chocolate turkeys as favors, containing tiny ‘turkey notes’ revealing the wedding date.” What a unique way to share special news with friends and family!

The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 24, 1935, 11.

In this 1940 Daily Times article, the author shares some traditions around turkeys that girls and boys partook in over the years such as wrapping their turkey notes in colored crepe paper with fringes and ribbons for extra adornments. Davenporters have celebrated this tradition for years, but have other cities or states ever scribbled turkey notes? A small survey of locals shows that the turkey note can only be found in Davenport, Iowa, not Wisconsin, Illinois, or South Dakota.

“Turkey Notes,” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA,), Nov. 21, 1940, 3.

Local columnist, Bob Feeny, wrote in his column, Homemade Hooch, about some of the specifics relating to turkey notes. He shares some fine examples in the newspaper clipping below.

Turkey Notes of 2022

Offered below is a selection of staff-created turkey notes for your reading pleasure. We hope you enjoy them and feel inspired to create your own. Please share your turkey notes with us in the comments!

Turkey high,
Turkey low,
Turkey tastes great!,
Don’t you know.

Did you know that turkeys 
are saurischian dinosaurs?

Turkey flip,
Turkey flap,
Turkey says,
You're not a flop! 

Turkey corn,
Turkey cob,
Turkey says,
Have a CORNtastic day! 

Turkey old, Turkey new,
Turkey borrow, Turkey blue,
Turkey says, 
I do!

Turkey swims,
Turkey floats
It’s hard to write
These turkey notes.

Turkey tik,
Turkey tok,
Eatin' turkey 
'round the clock.

Turkey trots,
Turkey twirls,
Watch out for the turkey's tail.

Turkey Hall,
Turkey Oates,
Katie hates writing 
Turkey notes.

Turkey knock,
Turkey who,
Turkey says, 
Owl see you soon! 

Turkey sing,
Turkey sung,
Turkey says,
Turn up the turkey song!

Stuff your turkey
Put him in the oven.
But bake too long and your
Turkey’s overdone.

Turkey Here,
Turkey There,
Turkey Everywhere,
Except in my stomach.

Turkey dancers,
Turkey troupe,
Slipped and fell on turkey poop.

Turkey bakes
Turkey toasts
Turkey loves stories
About local ghosts!

Turkey gobble, 
Turkey trot,
I’m eating turkey while it’s hot.


The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 24, 1935, 11.

“Downer Receives ‘Turkey Note’ 3 Feet Long.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 26, 1937, 9.

Feeny, Bob. “Homemade Hooch.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 23, 1939, 25.

“Turkey Notes.” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA,), Nov. 21, 1940, 3.

(posted by Kathryn)

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