No. 646



Here is a question that I would like to invite you to ponder with me, for at least a few minutes today. Have you ever picked a chicken? If you have not, then you don’t know what you have missed!
Every so often during a Lions Club meeting we sing an old song titled, “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes.” This song has a number of verses, and the one that comes to mind just now is, “We will kill the old red rooster when she comes.” This song brings forth a lot of glee, but no one ever says what we are going to do with that tough old bird after we kill it. The old red rooster is going to wind up in the pot to be served for a delicious meal, but again this raises the question “Who is going to pick it?”
This is what came to mind when I got to thinking about a story I heard several years ago. One morning along about the middle of January, when it was bitterly cold, this young lad was about two hours late for school. After he got there, Mr. Brown, the principal, demanded to know why he was late. This kid said, “You would not believe me if I told you.” Mr. Brown said, “Try me.” The lad went on to say, “For the past several weeks at our house, something has been stealing our chickens. In fact, pert near every morning when Pa would go out to the hen house, one or two more would be missing.
“Well, this morning around 2 o’clock, we all heard a racket out in the hen house and Pa got up, lit the lantern, and got ‘Old Betsy’ down from the mantle. Pa, still in his long-handles and without taking time to put his shoes on, made his way across the frosty ground out to the hen house. When he got there and opened the door he began to shine the lantern back and forth. After a bit he picked up some ‘eyes’ in the far corner of the hen house and slowly raised ‘Old Betsy’ to his shoulder. Now Mr. Brown, if you have ever worn long-handles you know they have a flap in the back that helps a fellow out when he is in a hurry.
“Well my Pa was in a bind. He was holding the lantern with one hand and ‘Old Betsy’ with the other, while still straining to keep that set of ‘eyes’ lined up to make a shot. Apparently he got in an awkward position and was all bent over, and about this time our old hound dog ‘Blue’ came up behind him and cold-nosed him. Mr. Brown, you should have heard that gun when it went off. I bet some folks in the next county could hear it. Now I told you that you probably would not believe me, but the reason I was late is because our whole family has been up since about 2:30 this morning picking chickens.”
My friend, I hope you enjoyed this story, because I sure enjoyed telling it. If you have read my column for the past 10 years or so, you may recall that I told it soon after I started writing. I don’t usually repeat columns, but this one came today because of a special request from a faithful reader in Dodge City, Kansas. The lady who wrote to me said, “I hope you will repeat the story about ‘Old Blue,’ because a lot of your readers out here would love to hear it again.”
I might add that I was privileged to speak to a community-wide group in Dodge City back in the year 2000. Thanks to a fine man by the name of Dave Grayson, Dodge City now has a “Bookcase for Every Child” project under way. Dave has been instrumental in getting a group of citizens together to form a committee, supported by the Daily Globe, and I know that soon a lot of deserving children there will have their very own bookcase and some good books.
What a difference this will make in their lives. If you live in this fine community, I hope you will get involved. You can donate “gently used” children books, purchase a copy of my book “Learning, Earning & Giving Back” to help raise the money for wood and supplies, read to children at Bright Beginnings Early Childhood Center (Head Start) or serve on a committee to plan and carry out the Bookcase Literacy Banquet.
As a quick aside, when I was out in Dodge City, I was given a personal tour of Boot Hill, where the famous “Gunsmoke” series originated. My wife, Viola, just loves the reruns of “Gunsmoke” and the old John Wayne movies. She watches them all the time, as they are one of the few things on television these days that is fit to watch.
Something you may not know about James Arness, better known as Marshall Matt Dillon, is that he is a veteran of World War II and was at Anzio Beach in 1944, during the months Allied Forces were pinned down there. What a thrill it was for me to speak to this group of surviving veterans at their national convention in Branson, Mo., several years ago. I was hoping to meet Marshall Dillon in person, but it was not to be, as he did not attend the year I was there. Maybe someone told him that I was coming.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)