GTPulse: The Woman Who Connected Us To The Traverse City Turkeys
Once upon a time, town turkeys were closely followed news in Traverse City. Known for holding up traffic and testing boundaries of South Airport Road drivers, a pair of turkeys named Hammer and Nails have sparked debates, late clock-ins, countless laughs, and even a locally made t-shirt all in their honor. With a country divided by COVID, negativity and hate have seemingly infected every corner of the internet, especially social media. Traverse City Turkeys is a Facebook page dedicated to following the antics of Hammer and Nails and has somehow remained untouched by political memes and inflammatory internet trolls all thanks to Linda Little. With so much attention placed on the turkeys, I got to thinking about the woman who wanted to spotlight them. Who was she, and why did she care about these two town rebels so much?
The story of Linda’s interest in the turkeys started after a life-changing event. A few years ago she was struck by a vehicle while standing outside in a parking lot. Because of the accident, she was back and forth from the doctor a lot.
Linda lives in Bear Lake. After the accident, she had to make regular trips to Munson Hospital in Traverse City. The drive was routine and dull.
“I had a lot of visits because of my legs and I was back and forth a lot and I would come down South Airport. The first time I saw the turkeys it was by Art Van,” she said. “I thought it was such a hoot because they waited for the light, and when it turned they went over to the other parking lot where they often hang out.”
The other parking lot belongs to Northern Building Supply, a lumber and hardware store located across the street from Art Van. The store is responsible for naming Hammer and Nails after holding a Facebook contest where fans of the store, or the turkeys, submitted name ideas.
“I just kept seeing them, that was around August of last year.”
She began to look forward to the drive to the hospital, hopeful that she would see the devious duo. Not only were they fun to watch, but they also inspired her.
“I was so freaked out to be in a parking lot, to cross a road. I would see these turkeys, and there’s a lot of traffic on South Airport, and they’re crossing traffic. For me, it was a little bit of symbolism. I was living my life through Hammer and Nails.”
She looked for a group online to find pictures or information on the birds. When there wasn’t anything to be found she was confused.
“I said to my husband, ‘I can’t believe nobody has started a page for them.’”
When Linda made a comment about it in Overheard in Traverse City she began corresponding with someone who felt the same.
“I said ‘Well why don’t you do it?’ He seemed like a younger dude, kind of more hip so I thought that would be perfect and he was into outdoors and stuff. He said no way.”
Running a social media page can turn into a full-time job quick. With preliminary hype already surrounding the turkeys, a page dedicated to them was bound to be something that needed the time dedicated to moderating. It seems like a silly job, admining a Facebook page dedicated to following the lives of two turkeys, but it would be an important one. Whoever the job fell to was going to be responsible for the community surrounding these new cultural relics. It couldn’t be tainted.
“He didn’t want to deal with all the drama so I thought I’d give it a shot. In my mind, what I wanted was something that was going to be postive, funny, enduring.”
Although she hadn’t any experience with managing an online page, Linda knew she could keep a peaceful, happy space. She has an educational background with behavioral psychology and spent a chunk of her career teaching special education classes with a focus on emotional impairment. She also has a degree in writing and enjoys creative writing. Her love for working with people and writing coincided with the group, and people appreciated the positivity.
“I had no idea it would take off like this. I had my fears that they would be captured or something would happen to them,”
But posts kept rolling in. When Linda wasn’t in town to see the turkeys, she was still able to field all of the photos being submitted to the page by fans. She was comforted by the updates on the turkeys. When coronavirus started dominating news feeds, she wondered what would happen to her feathered friends.
“This whole COVID thing started and I thought people would just forget about the page.”
But instead, people clung to the little community even without regular TC Turkey content. Linda would sometimes post an encouraging blurb or use some creative writing talent to post something entertaining.
“I just kept it going. I had people writing to me in private. I met a few of them,”
In the throes of lockdown, people sought out a helping hand or a listening ear. Linda provided that to those who reached out looking for a little happy news to spare.
“During the lockdown, there were a lot of lonely people. So I asked what people wanted to do when we couldn’t find the turkeys anymore, I won’t always know where they are.”
Fans agreed that the online space was one that they enjoyed. They wanted to continue to have a place where their scrolling wouldn’t be inundated with any kind of negativity. If there wasn’t any updates on Hammer and Nails, then they would just share information on animal welfare, and messages of encouragement or positivity.
“There was a woman who shared with me how much the group had helped her get through this whole thing, seeing the posts about the turkeys and the funny things. That was so touching to my heart.”
Posts featuring Hammer and Nails are few and far between these days, and recent posts only show Nails. Although Linda is regularly updated on the turkeys, Hammer’s whereabouts are unknown. Linda hasn’t seen either of them since spring.
“It was before COVID. Usually, in the spring they’ll leave to go looking for girls. There have been turkeys hanging out in that area for quite some time.”
Here’s to hoping that Hammer is shacking up somewhere with a weekend lover, and if he is, we’ll be sure to find out. The Traverse City Turkeys fans have had their hearts touched, by Hammer and Nails but also by Linda’s shining positivity. Through connecting a community through turkeys she connected a community, in a small way, to each other.
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