Another Chicken Story

This must have been around 1957 or so. A pet shop opened in an old grocery store on Williams and immediately became the favorite hangout for us kids. In addition to pets, it also featured plastic model kits, and I was in my plastic-model-kit-period at that time. The cold drink machine was also a big draw. We motivated there either by bicycle or go-cart, parking them all outside on the sidewalk. The place looked like a biker bar for kids, except the bikes had no motors, just playing cards attached to the frame with clothes pins. They made “motor” sounds when the spokes of the spinning wheel hit it. That is yet another story—for another time.

Come Easter time, they got in a load of cute little baby chickens, which had all been dyed various Easter colors: pink, blue, green, purple, you name it. Way too much eye-candy for a kid my age to pass up, so I bought two and took them home to my sisters for Easter presents. Actually, maybe I bought myself one, too? The two for my sisters were for the sole purpose of legitimizing mine.

My folks were not happy. Well, MB wasn’t happy, but my mother was ever willing to have another pet, even if it was three lowly chickens. She should have held no illusions about chickens as pets, because my grandparents had a chickens for eggs and meat when we lived with them on Williams when I was very young.

Baby chicks do what baby chicks do: they eat, make chicken poop, and become not-so-cute adult chickens, in this case, White Leghorn roosters—no hens, just roosters. By then my sisters and I were bored with the no longer cuddly roosters roaming around in our back yard in Kenner, but we could not even consider eating them! After all, cute or not, they were pets.

The ever-clever MB came up with a solution to rid himself of the three roosters without upsetting the rest of the family. The roosters would make a trip to Waveland to visit Boyd and Mary.

Boyd and Mary were the black couple that lived about two blocks from our house in Waveland. Boyd cut our grass, and Mary cleaned the house after we left after a stay. And they had chickens, lots of chickens, mostly White Leghorns, all roaming their mostly grassless yard making chicken noises among the impressive junk collection they had scattered about.

I shouldn’t be so hard on their hoarding, because Janis and I bought some of that “junk” when we got into antiquing years later. “Mary, how much you want for that old ice box?” (Notice I said “ice box” and not refrigerator? That is because it used block ice to chill the contents.) She would hem and haw, and I would say, “$5?” She would unsuccessfully try to hide her glee and reply, “Oh, OK, Baby.” I am sure she was thinking we were two crazy white folks. She was right.

Back to the chickens—

Our three roosters moved into the Boyd and Mary chicken ranch. Of course, one condition of this gracious gift was they would not actually eat our chickens. Yeah, right! Like they needed three more roosters in their yard. I’m sure MB had worked out some kind of deal with Boyd and Mary, probably paid them to take the stupid chickens off his hands.

We soon mostly forgot about “our” chickens left in the tender care of Boyd and Mary until a trip to Waveland a few weeks later. As was customary, MB visited Boyd and Mary to pay them. Naturally, my sisters and I insisted on going along to “visit” our chickens. We, of course, still laboring under the assumption they had not seen the inside of a stew pot.

“Where are they?” my sisters and I innocently asked of Mary.

Mary was really cool about this. Without hesitation, she simply pointed at one of the numerous and unidentifiable white chickens free-ranging among the junk in her still grassless yard and said, “Look, Baby, there’s one now!”

And we believed her.

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