Did You See My Chicken?
By Sandy Powers
These were desperate times. 1938. The Great Depression. Many people were out of work and hungry. Dad considered himself one of the lucky ones. He was able to get a job with the PWA, the Public Works Administration, created by President Roosevelt in 1935. Earning $40 a month, Mom and Dad rented a house in LaGrange, Ohio. It was an old house with a pot belly stove but no water. A block away was the village square which had a communal water pump. Every day Mom and Dad would take turns filling buckets of water at the pump to carry back to empty into a large tub resting on the floor in the kitchen. Even with such an inconvenience, Mom and Dad thought they were fortunate. At least, more fortunate than many of the folks they knew, like Orville and Dee.
Orville and Dee wanted to get married but they couldn’t afford to live together and there was no room for the two of them at either parent’s house. Taking pity on the unhappy couple, my mom and dad offered our home to them.
“Get married and you can live with us until you can find work,” Mom said.
Orville and Dee married and moved in with us: seven people crowded into a small two bedroom house with a pot belly stove and no water. Orville was indeed thankful. Maybe a little too thankful because one afternoon Orville came home with a dead chicken.
“Grace, I found this chicken dead at the side of the road,” Orville explained with a wide smile spread across his face.
“What?” my mother exclaimed. “How in the world could you find a dead chicken along side of the road?”
“There it was, just laying there. And it still warm,” Orville answered with a wide smile spread across his face.
“Indeed, it is,” agreed Mom, as she felt the dead chicken with her hand. “Our luck must be changing! Chicken soup for dinner!”
And what a fine dinner it was. For the first time in many a day, we had our fill.
Two mornings later there was a knock on our door. It was Mr. Horvath, our neighbor two houses down.
“Mrs. Balogh, did you see my chicken?” he asked. “I noticed on occasion one of my chickens walking towards your shed.”
Mr. Horvath nodded.
“No, Mr. Horvath, I did not see your chicken, but I will ask around,” Mom replied.
Later that evening, Mom casually asked Orville, “Orville, where again did you say you found that dead chicken?”
Red-faced, Orville stammered, “I…I was so thankful to you for giving us a home and we were hungry and I wanted to contribute so I scattered bread crumbs along the path towards the shed and this chicken followed the crumbs….. Mr. Horvath had so many…..”
“Oh, Orville!” my mother wailed.
The following day, Mr. Horvath was $1.00 richer.
Sandy Powers is the author of “Passage.”