Did you know that the stories you hear from us on NPR and our podcast are excerpts of interviews pulled from the StoryCorps Archive? Participants visit one of our recording locations with a friend or family member to record a 40-minute interview with the help of a trained StoryCorps Facilitator, or record a conversation using the StoryCorps App. We’re sharing this unedited interview from the StoryCorps Archive with you in its original form.
If you find yourself in a panic over your poultry this Thanksgiving, there’s a toll-free number you can call! The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, which began in 1981, is where you can find experts like Marjorie Klindera and Carol Miller on the other end of the line to answer all of your bird-related questions. In November 2015, Marjorie and Carol recorded a StoryCorps conversation about the 30+ years they have each worked the talkline and shared stories about their favorite calls. Long-time fans of StoryCorps may remember an edited version of this interview that aired on NPR’s Morning Edition, but this full-length recording includes a plethora of stories that never made it into the two-minute broadcast.
Carol tells the story of a caller whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. All she had to cook with was a microwave, but “she was bound and determined to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal for her family.” The caller told Carol, “I’ve got so much to be thankful for — I have my family.”
Marjorie recounts the story of a caller who wasn’t calling to ask a question, but “calling to brag that he had solved his own problem — his turkey was too big for the pan that he had, and his solution was to wrap the turkey in a towel, stomp on it and break some bones, then it fit in the pan,” she says. “He was very proud of himself!”
Carol remembers a call she received from a young man who wanted to propose on Thanksgiving day. “He wanted to mix diamond ring in the stuffing and then stuff it inside the turkey.” She convinced him that that wasn’t a good idea and together they came up with a new plan. “Every year, I think about him,” she says. “If she said yes and if everything went well, they’ve now got the kids around the dining room table, they’ve got the grandkids around the table, and I’m sure every year grandpa tells that story.”
If things don’t go perfectly to plan though, “It’s [about] having the family together,” says Marjorie. “The food, we try to make it as perfect as we can, but it doesn’t come down to that.” Carol adds, “And it’s kind of funny if something goes wrong, ’cause then you’ve got a memory for years and years!” The job requires them to work an eight hour day on the holiday, but they are happy to do it because, as Carol says, “We cannot desert America on Thanksgiving!”
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