Mr. Gobbles

If you work or study near Kendall Square, you are likely to be amongst the thousands of people streaming out of the T stop at rush hour on Main Street. People cross the street, casually neglecting not only the “Don’t Walk” sign, but the huge police car at the signal. Perhaps you enter the Marriott which everyone uses as a thoroughfare-cum-rain-shelter between Main and Broadway. On Broadway, people walk stiffly and rapidly to their cubicles, offices and MIT classrooms. Here, if you allow your gaze to wander around the premises of the Volpe Center, you might just see Mr. Gobbles out on a slow morning perambulation among the pruned hedgerows.

Mr. Gobbles is the resident wild turkey of Kendall Square. Upon making inquiries, I found that he first arrived in 2003 and the building guards let him live there in peace. I can’t be sure, but someone probably feeds him as well. Happily therefore, he will not find his way into somebody’s oven on Thanksgiving. I think he is either very deaf or very wise. How else can one explain his calm demeanor when surrounded by the cacophonous vehicular nightmare that is Cambridge?

I passed him on my way to work today, and wondered what would happen if he could divine the thoughts of passersby in this decidedly geeky place. What stories he could tell of theorems, machines and cures taking shape in inquisitive minds!


  1. 11/30/2007: Saw Mr. Gobbles again near the ground floor of the Biogen Idec building.
  2. 12/03/2007: Repeat sighting in the Volpe Center grounds. The year’s first snow had fallen last night, and Mr. Gobbles was treading lightly among the oak leaves that were still falling on the white ground. He was about 6 feet away when our eyes met. I stopped and we looked at each other for five or six seconds before I sensed that I might alarm him by staring fixedly at him from across the hedgerows. So I left and let him be.

7 thoughts on “Mr. Gobbles”

  1. I wonder what he does on Thanksgiving? Home to family?

    I love this cartoon — I hope you do more. Maybe when words seem like too much these days with your move and your new job you could just post something like this.

    As for whether he’s wise or he’s hard of hearing — when I get old I plan to be hard of hearing so I can have more space to think the many wise thoughts I’ll be thinking.

    Hope all’s well with you.

    xoxo, L

  2. Stefanie: I wish I had a picture of him as well. The problem is, that I would have to take my clumsy camera everyday until I saw Mr. Gobbles. Nowadays, I take a slightly different route because I bike, but in the winter, I’ll revert to the old route and hope that I get lucky!

    Lily: LOL at the old age plan. I guess that old deaf people are quite happy and content, but they succeed in aggravating everyone else around them 🙂 .

    All is well with the new surroundings. (With many apologies to Nancy Mitford) I am getting used to Life in a Cold Climate 🙂 .

  3. Just to let you know, (or maybe you already do)–Mr. Gobbles has been taken to the Dedham wildlife preserve–he was injured out on Broadway and found in the bushes, so to let him recuperate in peace, he’s gone to a very large space (hope he doesn’t feel lost!) instead.

    I walk past the V. Ctr most days and started missing him a bit ago, but it took several days of asking to find out where he was. With all the construction going on for the building next door (is there a problem with just leaving some unbuilt open space in Cambridge anymore?) I was surprised he hadn’t run away before this.

    I first saw him when a friend and I were walking back from the Kendall Square Cinema, going along the small tree-lined park that flanks one side of the Volpe Center. We happened to look up and saw an ungainly mass that didn’t seem to be a plastic bag hanging over one of the branches, apparently asleep…then it stood up, lifted its wings and flapped to an ungainly landing on the other side of the fenced walkway beneath.

    “Was that a turkey?” my friend asked. “I think so,” I replied. “I’ve heard they can live in the city….”

    We kept going. Later, when I started working nearby, I saw him more often–once parked in front of a security guard’s car, preventing him from leaving. The man just shrugged, turned on the radio and waited until the bird left. “You’re never going to get him to move otherwise,” he noted.

    I finally got his name (the bird’s, not the guard’s!) from some biochem lab folks working in the building next door. Any last week, I saw a fellow with a “DOT” name badge on, and he told me where Mr. Gobbles had gone.

    I was worried about him when I didn’t see him (I have a few photos, too, and there are several videos on YouTube) and now, as I go by, I miss him. Glad to see all the squirrels and robins and such, but a turkey–that was a bird of a different color…

    Best–della roux

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