In today's world, we most know chickens as cooked items on a restaurant or fast food menu. They are raised out of sight, out of mind, and that's where we like them. In the 1950s, many Texans raised their own chickens, which they used for the eggs they laid and the meat they produced.
Granny Moore used to say to me in the late 1950s and early 1960s "Jim, you need to get you some chickens!" I never took her up on it. I remembered as a young boy being terrorized by her rooster, who was a vicious, territorial bird. I also remember Granny wringing a chicken's neck and watching as the resultant "chicken with his head chopped off" danced his last dance.
I never got any chickens, though. I prefer my chickens cooked, or ready to be cooked, or at least living somewhere I don't have to see or hear them. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, someone always had chickens nearby, so hearing the rooster crow early every morning was a fact of life. The term "getting up with the chickens" had real meaning, especially to me, when I got up at five in the morning to go to work before school.
My favorite chickens are the ones on menus. My favorite is Chicken Fried Chicken. I like chicken barbequed. I like it boiled and made into Chicken Soup. I like it as part of gumbo. I like Fried Chicken. I like roasted chicken. I don't like chicken that is unrecognizable as a piece of chicken, so I pass on the chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, and the like.
To be called a "chicken" is to be called cowardly. To "chicken out" is to fade in the face of a challenge. In some circles, the term "chick" is used to describe some females. To play "chicken" is to tempt fate by doing some devil may care act.
As boys in grade school, we played a game we called "chicken." I won't go into the details, but it involved throwing our pocket knife into the ground, with the other person at risk for our miss. This type of "chicken" game was common. Boys played it on school grounds, before and after school.
Another form of playing "chicken" was much more lethal. It involved two cars driving at each other, with one or both of them veering off to avoid collision. This type of chicken appeared to exist mainly in movies about teen excess and adventure.
The chicken produces eggs that can be eaten in a variety of ways. I favor fried, soft boiled, scrambled and poached, in that order. No presentation of an egg exceeds the heavenly delight of deviled eggs. They are one delight which I seldom eat, but when eating, make no limit on the number I will consume.
In high school, I did an impression of a chicken, to the delight of my friends. I would walk around just like a chicken, gawking, clucking, moving slowly, then occasionally fast. The moniker "Chickenman" was sometimes used to describe me while doing my antics.
I think I've about covered the topic of chickens in one man's life. Now I'll get back to doing what I do best with chickens: eat them. They are delicious.
© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore, All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his email@example.com