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Monday, 05 May 2014

Butch, the Easter Chicken

By Marcy Belson

In 1942, Easter morning brought me a little Easter basket with jelly beans and a few chocolate candies - and a tiny dyed yellow chick.

I remember that every child in my family received a yellow chick that year and I also remember the chicks were dyed different colors. You might get a pastel blue or pink. Mine was yellow.

For some unknown reason, I named my chick Butch. I didn't know anyone named Butch but that was the name given the little guy. Good thing, because Butch was a rooster.

I don't remember anyone having the chicks for more than a week or so. They were dispensable and disposable with a short shelf life. Probably no feed was purchased by the family for them and far too much handling by little hands.

They simply disappeared, much as the dime store goldfish that floated on the top of the water after I fed it the half box of food.

But Butch - well, Butch was the exception. He lived with kitchen scraps and a little cardboard box in the back yard. Then Butch learned to crow. At 5:30AM. In a neighborhood of working men, it wasn't a major problem. No one complained, except my parents. I heard them talking about it one morning.

Worse yet, Butch became one mean, aggressive bird. My path to the school began in our back yard - out the back gate, down the alley and, eventually, to the school a few blocks away.

The problem was, Butch didn't take kindly to intruders. Even his six-year-old protector, me, was fair game. My mother's answer to this problem was to provide me with the kitchen broom. I would swing the broom as Butch began his attack and when I reached the back gate, I left the broom there for my return in the afternoons.

Life went on, until the day Butch was out of the back yard pecking his way down the driveway next to the house. My father returned from a long day of working in the hot sun, stepped out of his car and it happened.

Yes, Butch attacked him, climbing right up his leg, pecking and screaming in bird talk.

Without a thought, my father rung his neck. Fortunately, I was not a witness but in my mind, I see it, to this day.

My mother plucked his feathers and fried him for dinner. Then they made the major mistake of telling me who I was eating. That was my last chicken dinner for many years.

I finally mellowed enough to cook chicken and I do eat it in some instances but I'm not a fan of fried chicken.

Poor Butch, the Easter chicken. He met his match in my father.

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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Oh my! You story made me recall our Easter ducks....Huey and Louie.....They ended up spending their days on a pond by the Country Club. Glad I didn't have to eat them!!!!

Early in my marriage, we lived in a row house in the city.

My neighbor,Janet, had 3 kids and bought them each a colored chick for Easter.One was pink,one green and a yellow one like yours.

They were so cute for about a week then they started to grow and Janet had no idea what to do with them in the city, so she put them in her basement and they grew bigger and ,just like Butch, they became so aggressive that Janet and the kids were afraid of them. They would stand at the top of the basement steps and throw chicken feed down to them.

After about a month the dye was wearing off as the chickens got bigger and they were now half white and half the color they had been dyed.

Janet called the zoo and they refused to take them. I suppose they had already taken in hundreds of colored chicks. Then she called the SPCA and they also would not accept them.

At her wits end by this time and truthfully scared to death of them she simply opened her basement door and ,as far as I know, Janet was the inventor of the free range chicken.

They ran down our alley and they never looked back!

Nancy, what a great ending to your comment! Free range, indeed.

Marcy: Yours is almost a universal story of folks of a certain age.

When we moved to a small acreage, we got 5 laying hens and one rooster,George.

Ultimately, the only one who could go in the pen was my little brother who could jump high, move fast and kick accurately.

As we grew tired of "farming" one Sunday for dinner, Mother served up stewed chicken and dumplings, instead of fried.

Bad as George was, none of us could eat him!

Lesson: Be careful about naming an animal....

Marcy - Such an interesting story and so well written. I love descriptive stories like this one, one that made a memorable visual picture in my mind. Then to top it off, your ending left me imagining how I think I would have felt, as you did, about having chicken for a meal back then and even now.

Oh Marcy,
My "Butch" was a white leghorn I named "Roosty", the only survivor of a flock of six after a neighbour's dog got in my chicken pen. I rescued Roosty and beat the dog senseless (I was five). Mother taped Roosty's wing together with bandaids and he grew up into an enormous bird who adored me but hated her.
He'd jump from my lap where he'd been chuckling and rubbing his head on me to go for her with beak and spurs every time she stepped outside.

One day despite my begging he was taken to town to be "traded" for a fat dressed hen. After we'd finished our fried chicken dinner Mother said, "Ha! You just ate your precious Roosty!"

And like you Marcy, it was years before I could eat chicken again. I still find it hard to eat, over 60 years later.

Thank you for this story, Marcy! It made me smile thinking of my own little chickens. Unfortunately they suffered from my small child's hands. One I loved so much, that I tried to hug dearly. The poor one, didn't survive this hug "attack". And the other one was my "dog". I bound him on one leg with a thread and took him for a walk.
After that I didn't get any chickens anymore.
I'm glad I found out these stories much later. So they didn't spoil my love for eating chicken. ;)

What the heck! Why would any parents sit and rub it in the noses of their child that they just ate their pet? Good grief. But a very funny story.

I agree with "Good grief"(Beth). George Osawa, the man who brought macrobiotics to the US once said, "If it runs away from you, don't eat it".
I rather feel, as an extension of that, if someone kills a life-loving friend of yours, think twice before supporting the butcher. At least, make him sit there awhile with his dead things.

AT first I thought you were talking about the spongy chicken that was in my basket. It was made of some kind of candy or a soft material. I think it ended up in the top closet shelf still in the basket.

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