As I said in Part One my Dad included my brother and I in all of his hobbies. The Pidgeons, bees, rabbits, and dogs all were his way of exposing us to what men…grown southern men…needed to know. Basic skills if you will. These skills taught me the things I needed to know..no that is not the right word…the things I needed to be an instinctive part of me. These things were all part of my Dad’s hidden plan…and the chickens were part of that plan.
MY DAD’S HIDDEN CHICKEN PLAN
My Dad had taken the day off from work. It was a Friday in early fall. When I got home from school I did the normal thing of dropping my books on the couch, and then heading out the back door to play with my dog. What I saw made me stop cold!
He was standing next to an old wash tub…the kind that had legs so you could use it standing. At first, I couldn’t tell exactly what he was doing…until..he brought his hands out of the water. My Dad…the guy I considered the most mentally stable person on this planet…was washing chickens. I had watched him kill chickens. I had watched him pluck chickens. I had never dreamed I would see him wash chickens.
After he washed each chicken he dried it with a towel and placed it in a large box. I looked in the box and there were six clean, but wet looking chickens in it. I asked my Dad, “What cha doin’”?
“Washing chickens”, he said.
“Why”, I said
“We are entering them in the fair”, he said with a smile.
I ran to the house like a dog at suppertime. This was news!
I told my brother all about the chicken washing, and the fair…we both ran back outside..My brother asked, “Can we go with you”?
“You boys will be going to help me”. He said.
Do you remember getting so excited about something you suddenly needed to pee? That is how I felt. My experience with the fair had been a school field trip the year before. It was not that much fun since it consisted of a long bus ride, and the teachers spending so much time keeping us altogether we really didn’t see that much. This time we would be going with my Dad, and we would be part of the State Fair. There was a lot to do to get ready, and my Dad was trying to figure out how to get six chickens dry.
After dinner my brother and I did our homework…this way we would be free for the whole weekend. My Dad went outside to work on the wet chicken problem. After a bit I went to the kichen to look for something to eat, and I heard our station wagon running. I asked my Mom where Daddy was going…she said she didn’t think he was going anywhere. At that moment the station wagon quit running, and my Dad walked inside. “We have a problem”, he said.
When my Dad was in the military he had been a mechanic, and that station wagon was his pride and joy. It was also a lemon. Any trip that we would take outside of our county required his tinkering to make sure we could get there and back. When he said there was a problem, this is what I thought. That was not the problem.
My Dad said, “The chickens are dead”.
I listened as he explained what had killed the clean wet chickens. It sounded so odd that I had to see this for myself. What I saw was quite unusual. Running from the exhaust pipe of the station wagon was a vacuum hose…it connected to a large cardboard box that had holes poked in it. Inside the box were six, clean, dry, and very dead chickens. I wondered how this would affect our trip to the fair.
Since my Mother had refused to cook any chicken that had died by carbon monoxide poisoning I had the job of digging a pit and disposing of the very clean, very dead chickens. Luckily my Dad would not be denied the opportunity to compete at the fair with his boys.
Over the next several years we racked up hundreds of red, blue, and white ribbons, as well as several trophies. My Dad had hidden a little gem of wisdom with every trip…an object lesson on what it means to be a man, a good Southern man. That was his hidden plan all along.
Stay Tuned for Part Three.... THE FAIR