In Texas’ Gobbler Country, an Overlooked Mascot Gets Its Due
The country is full of bird-themed mascots. But only a proud few have embraced the turkey.
We’re exploring how America defines itself one place at a time. In Cuero, Texas, affection for turkeys extends well ...
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...beyond a holiday meal. But one burly bird has been all but excluded from mascot consideration: the mighty turkey.
I traveled this month to Cuero, the self-proclaimed Turkey Capital of the World, as Gobbler fans were celebrating another district football championship and playoff berth.
Angie Cuellar, who leads the local chamber of commerce, suggested that outsiders “just don’t realize that a turkey is a pretty tough bird.”
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“You watch the gobblers,” she said, “when they fan out their tails, they walk with their chest out, they’re very proud birds.”
“There’s character in a turkey,” said Cory Thamm, who manages a liquor store in Cuero and cares for a small flock that includes Ruby Begonia, whom locals insist is the “fastest turkey in the South.”
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“When they come to school, we’re the great equalizer, and then you don’t know one Gobbler from another,” said Kim Fleener, ...
...the principal at the high school, where the dress code allows for only collared shirts or Gobbler spirit wear.
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At the Cuero Heritage Museum, housed downtown in the old federal building, an entire room is devoted to high school ...
...football and filled with Gobbler memorabilia from decades’ past, including the four state championship teams.
She said she had learned to shrug off fowl-themed jeers that rival fans direct at Toby.
“They’re like, ‘We’re going to roast them,’ and they can be very aggressive,” said Mallory, a freshman.
“Sometimes we get a lot of hate.”
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“You really have to, like, become Toby,” she said.
“You have to become Toby’s personality. So, Toby is very strong and he’s very muscular. You have to walk this way — you have to walk like you’re very confident.”
Across Texas, Mr. Arroyo said, when people learn he played at Cuero, they ask, “‘Y’all are like a turkey, right?’”
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