Ken Steinhoff’s article today about chickens (click here to read his article) brought back memories of the pet chicken I had when I was living on South Sprigg Street. Many of you have heard me tell this story so many times that you are sick of it. However, I am once again going to tell the story so, if you already have it memorized, you can just skip this post. (I have this sneaking suspicion that I will probably regret ever posting this article due to the unseemly comments that
may will come forth from some of my family & friends–you know who you are. Be careful, because I may know a story or two about you too.)
Chickens were a big part of my life when we lived with Grandma on Cedar Lane. I was scared to death of them because they flogged me every time I went near the chicken house. And, at that time, I wasn’t much taller than they were so they seemed really dangerous with those beaks and claws coming at me. I would hold my hands over my face to get through the attacking fowl and into the chicken house to see if there were any eggs in the nests.
I did get my revenge on them on butchering day but that’s a different story and a different place. The chicken I will write about today was my own personal pet chicken when we lived on South Sprigg. I loved that chicken.
When I lived on Sprigg Street with my mom, step-dad, and younger brothers, Mark and Jack, we only had 1 chicken and it was my own personal pet. Here’s how I happened to acquire my fine feathered friend, whose name I will tell you later.
Aunt Lela and Uncle Clarence were coming to visit. It was a long drive from their home in Clarence MO (near Hannibal) down to Cape. As they were traveling to our house in Cape there was an accident on the highway. I don’t know the details of the accident. All I know is that a truckload of chickens was involved and there were chickens running loose. My Uncle Clarence, being born and raised a farmer, jumped out of the car and ran to capture one of the chickens, put it in his car and brought it to me for a pet. I was thrilled. I carried that chicken around in my arms and “loved on it”(as much as a chicken will allow “loving on”). If my chicken got out of my sight I would go out in the yard and yell for it. The neighbors would be out on their porches laughing at me trying to get that chicken to come to me. (I didn’t find out until 9th grade why they found that so comical)
My pet chicken laid eggs on the sidewalk. We never got to eat one of her eggs because, of course, the shell would crack when it hit the sidewalk. What a crazy chicken!
There came a day when my pet chicken was nowhere to be found. I searched the neighborhood calling for it but it never came. While we were eating supper I mentioned that my chicken was missing. Nobody said anything. They just looked down at their plates. I looked down at my plate and then suddenly it dawned on me…we were having fried chicken! I was horrified. As an adult I can laugh about it (sort of) but as a child I was heart-broken and I looked at my family as heartless cannibals for a long time after that. I still don’t think we should have eaten that chicken. It didn’t bother me to eat chicken….in fact, I loved fried chicken, but….THIS chicken trusted me. I carried that chicken around with me all the time. And it was, after all, a gift from Uncle Clarence. How dare they? Note: I probably should have had some kind of treatment for PTSD at the time but that disorder hadn’t been invented yet 🙂
As Radio Personality Paul Harvey Used to Say: “Now for the rest of the story:”
(This is the real kicker!!)
Years later, as a 9th Grader, I was sitting in Citizenship class at the new Junior High daydreaming, as usual. My thoughts wandered back to that pet chicken and the day Uncle Clarence brought him to me. I remembered Uncle Clarence placing that chicken lovingly into my arms. Then I remembered that chicken pecking my hand. I recalled that it kinda’ hurt. THEN, I REMEMBERED WHAT I HAD NAMED THAT CHICKEN (which was, by the way a HEN, not a rooster). Right then and there I named that chicken “Pecker” because it “pecked” me. No wonder the neighbors were falling off their porches laughing when I yelled for him/her. Now why didn’t somebody tell me that my name choice was inappropriate? I guess they must have been enjoying the entertainment so much that they didn’t want to spoil it. Now that I think of it, I wonder what they said when “Pecker” started laying eggs on the sidewalk.
Come to think of it, that may be why he/she suffered an untimely death. Maybe I was embarrassing the family when I went all over the neighborhood yelling “PECKER, COME HERE PECKER!!” (Oh, the shame of it all! Laughing-stock of the South Sprigg neighborhood)
New Clues Reported by an Eyewitness of the crime – my brother, Mark, has brought new evidence to my attention regarding the untimely death of my pet chicken. Here is his statement:
“You could be right on the embarassment factor. If I remember right you also invited a pastor, who was going door to door visiting the neighborhood, to go around the side of the house to see your pet “Pecker”. Mom was talking to him at the time at the front door and went speechless. It wasn’t but a few days later that we had the best fried chicken!”
Mystery solved! It was that preacher’s fault!