My dad received a letter in the mail from the county health department. It was 1953 in East Los Angeles and the letter informed my dad he had to get rid of all his chickens. Obviously, a neighbor had complained of the chicken noise and ruckus. Lots of hen clucking and roosters crowing. Crowing perhaps too early in the morning. Back in the chicken yard we had about fifty Rhode island reds. Mostly hens and two or three roosters. Chickens that enabled our three peach trees to flourish and produce huge peaches. Peaches the size of softballs and oh so juicy and sweet. Peach trees we kids loved to climb up in. Peachtree’s that provided shade for the chickens in the summer. Between the chickens and the trees, it was a mutual admiration society. Ecology at its best.
But back to this letter. It stated there could be a health hazard associated with many chickens in our backyard. The only hazard I could think of was eating too much fried chicken. Fried chicken with smashed potatoes with chicken gravy. My mother did a superb job of cooking up all these Sunday after church meals. Yes, those were the days. Absolutely finger licking good.
It was conjectured that our new German neighbors must had complained. In retrospect it must had been the times on Saturdays when we rendered a chicken. It would go like this:
It would all take place in the backyard just behind our house. We would fill up a galvanized wash tub with boiling water Then my dad would grab by the neck his chicken of choice and start twirling it around and around until its head disconnected from the chicken’s body. Once the chicken body hit the ground it would toss and thrash about. Something like a chicken with its head cut off. That’s what they do. Toss and thrash. Then my dad would pick up the thrashing chicken by its feet and dip it in the boiling water in order to relieve the chicken of its feathers. Once that was accomplished my dad would remove its feet and Waa Laa, it was finished and sent off to my mom’s kitchen for further dressing and processing.
All of the aforementioned in plain view of our German neighbors back window. A method repeated many times on Saturday mornings. If all this had been posted on Facebook it would have photos of the boiling water tub, the chicken being twirled about, the chicken’s headless body tossing about, and the chicken floating the boiling water with feathers being plucked off. Then finally photo of chicken parts being fried in a large cast iron fry pan. Like, react, or comment.