Episode 2: Cher Ami

Manage episode 185473321 series 1523133
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LOTTIE: Hello, Time Cadets! This is Lottie Turner and you’re listening to Time Turners, the podcast where me and my robot Gif go back in time to meet historical figures and bring you all of yesterday’s news today!

GIF: Hello, I am Gif and Gif is me.

LOTTIE: On today’s show we tell the story of a decorated war hero who saved 194 men from the Germans in WW1. Coming to us all the way from 1918, it’s Cher Ami!



LOTTIE: Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention he’s a pigeon.

GIF: I’ll put on the translator.

Violent HOOTS become…

CHER: He? Who are you calling a he?

LOTTIE: Oh, you’re a—

CHER: A hen? Of course I am. What? A lady pigeon can’t be a war hero? That’s a (hoot).

GIF: Ha. A pun. I love puns.

LOTTIE: No, it’s just my notes said—

CHER: I’m just teasing, my darling. People have been mistaking me for a male ever since I joined the military. But no, this pigeon is a full on hen. And proud of it.

LOTTIE: Okay, let’s start by talking a little bit about how you joined the U.S. army.

CHER: Well, my dear, to tell that story, first I have to tell the story of every pigeon who came before me. You see, before we became bottom feeders, nesting in subway stations eating crumbs off the streets, the pigeon were a mighty class that lived alongside humans as equals.

GIFS: As equals?

LOTTIE: I seriously doubt that.

CHER: Okay, more as pets. But that’s besides the point. The point is that, before we were known for pooping on the heads of men, we were among the most loved of creatures. We delivered the news of the first Olympic games, our excrement was used to soil plants and make gunpowder, and humans allowed us to live in their homes and bred us for show. We were LOYALTY.

LOTTIE: But then what happened?

CHER: Then the machines arrived. The primary responsibility of pigeons was to deliver messages. Telegraphs made us irrelevant. Why send a bird when you can get a message delivered electronically? Pigeons were losing their jobs left and right. And don’t even get me started on the telephone. Machines took everything from us.

GIF: Hey, not all machines.

LOTTIE: And that’s how pigeons ended up living on the streets?

CHER: Indeed. Believe it or not, pigeons are not native to America. We came from the Middle East. Humans brought us here for service. Every pigeon you see in the United States is actually the descendant of someone’s working pigeon or, in some cases, a war hero. Wink, wink is what I would do if I still had my right eye. (Whisper) I lost it in the war.

LOTTIE: Is that your way of telling me you want to talk about your service?

CHER: Of course! The year was 1918—

GIF: Sorry, but is this going to be a long story?

CHER: Excuse me?

GIF: I need to go to the bathroom.

LOTTIE: Me too.

GIF: We usually break now for our sponsors.

CHER: Ugh, fine.

LOTTIE: We’ll be right back after these messages!


ANNOUNCER: Today’s episode of Time Turners is sponsored by YOU. Yes, YOU, the person listening to this podcast. To become an official Time Cadet and hear exclusive interviews with Lottie and Gif, go to patreon.com/timeturners and donate today. Don’t have anything to donate? Why not leave us a review on iTunes instead? Send us a screenshot of your review to timeturnerspodcast@gmail.com and Lottie and Gif will send you a personalized thank you letter. Thank you so much for listening and making the future a better place. Now, back to the show.


LOTTIE: And we’re back!

CHER: Can I talk about my military service now?

LOTTIE: Go for it.

CHER: The year is 1918 and pigeons are called upon by humanity once again. Only this time, things get ugly. It’s World War 1 and, since mobile phones and radios don’t exist yet, the human soldiers come to us once more. “We need you to deliver messages from the battle,” they say. We see the hurt in their eyes and agree.

GIF: Ooo, drama.

CHER: The pigeons go to war. Soldiers strap very small messages in tiny canisters to our legs and send us soaring high above the battlefield to get the message home. Many of us are shot down by German soldiers before we can escape the war zone. But one of us succeeded where others couldn’t. Can you guess who?

LOTTIE: Is it you?

CHER: It is I! I flew 12 important missions in the war. All of them successful.

LOTTIE: Is there one you’re particularly proud of?

CHER: Of course, but I wouldn’t dare take up more of your air time talking about myself. Get it, air time? I crack myself up.

LOTTIE: Okay then. Ladies and gentleman, Cher—

CHER: Hold on, hold on, I was kidding. Of course I want to talk about the great escape of October 3rd, 1918.

LOTTIE: That’s what I thought.

CHER: It’s October 3rd, 1918, and 500 American soldiers are trapped by the enemy behind a small hill. American allies who don’t know the soldiers are still in the area begin firing right at them. Major Whittlesey sends several pigeons out to stop the friendly fire, but German soldiers manage to shoot them all down before they can escape.

The next day, only 194 soldiers remain and, to make matters worse, there’s only one pigeon left: me. The Major ties a letter to my left leg that reads: “We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.”

And I take off.

GIF: I need to go to the bathroom again.

CHER: You sit down and wait! I take off and head over enemy lines. They shoot at me with everything they’ve got and they’re almost successful.

BANG. A bullet takes off my right leg. BANG. Another one goes through my breast. BANG. I’m blinded in one eye. I dive toward the battlefield. All hope is lost.

LOTTIE: Oh no!

CHER: But then I remember my parents, and my parents parents, and all of the pigeons from all the pigeon parents that came before them. This is our noble duty. With one leg, one eye and a bullet in my chest, I regain my balance and shoot for the skies, soaring high above the battlefield and—

LOTTIE: And you save the day?!

CHER: Yes, I do. I flew for 25 minutes, avoiding poison gas and shrapnel and got the letter to our allies. They stopped shooting and immediately worked out a plan to save the men. 194 soldiers were rescued by Allied relief forces that day and it’s all thanks to me.

GIF: Did you get a medal?

CHER: I did. I was awarded the Croix de Guerre, and the U.S. military carved me a brand new wooden leg. Check it out.


GIF: Cool. I want a wooden leg.

LOTTIE: That’s a truly incredible story.

CHER: It really is.

GIF: Can I go to the bathroom now?

CHER: Why go anywhere? Just leave your excrement on the floor like I’ve been for the past four minutes.

LOTTIE: Have you… Cher!

CHER: A pigeon’s got to do what a pigeon’s got to do. And, remember, this was a highly sought after resource at one point.

LOTTIE: Okay, let’s sign off before it gets worse.

GIF: Good idea.

LOTTIE: Thanks for listening to Time Turners. Don’t forget to stay up to date with our adventures by subscribing to our show on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

GIF: Next week, we’re going all the way to Ireland to loot treasure and meet a real-life pirate.

LOTTIE: You won’t want to miss that. We’re going to get swords and meet the Queen…

CHER: Can I come?

LOTTIE: Sorry, this is kind of our thing.

CHER: Oh, I see. A pigeon isn’t good enough for your— Hoot. Hoot.

GIF: Oh no, her translator stopped working.

LOTTIE: See you next week!

GIF: In the future.


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