Saturday, October 24, 2015

What is special about a picture of chickens?

This is quite an UNremarkable picture. If some members of my family inherited it from cousins as part of a large collection of old family photos, they may be apt to discard it. There are no people in it, no landmarks, nothing of particular note. Or is there?

This photo was part of a large collection of pictures salvaged from my cousin's house upon her recent death. I scanned, edited, filed, and saved 1500 pictures to CD to share with other family members. One of my most treasured pictures in that large collection was surprisingly this picture of the chickens in my Grandma and Grandpa Flanders' back yard. It shows the chicken coop at the right and their house in the background. 

This stirred memories for me of the times my twin brother Dennis and I spent at their house when we were 7, 8, 9, and 10 years old. It was a "separate" time in our lives. I call it that because it was a different world from that in which we lived full time with our dad and step-mother in Great Bend, Kansas. My mother's parents, Milo and Nannie Flanders lived in the small town of Stafford, KS, less than 40 miles southeast of Great Bend. It might as well have been in a foreign country in my mind. Their house was one block south of the local Co-op Grain Elevator. It was a small, simple house on a large corner lot, dotted with fruit trees, bushes, lawn chairs and of course the chicken coop. By Court Order, Dennis and I visited the fourth weekend of each month until we were 12 years old. My cousins and I gathered eggs for Grandma and enjoyed the squawking of the chickens in the yard on our casual Saturday afternoon visits. I particularly remember one Saturday afternoon when Grandpa Flanders came out and killed a couple of chickens (by wringing their necks) and then dipped them in boiling water and plucked the feathers out so Grandma could cook them for supper. Ewwww, that was an experience I'd never have had at my home in Great Bend. I thought being at my grandparents house must have been what it was like to live on a farm

We walked with our cousins everywhere we went in Stafford, down the "spooky" sidewalks with tree limb shadows taunting us, to the Ritz movie theater on Saturday nights, to Sunday School at the Christian Church on Sunday morning, back to Grandma's house at 602 N. Union for Sunday's fried chicken dinner and Grandma's homemade peach cobbler. As a young girl I sat at that southwest corner  of that big dinner table on the upside-down white porcelain dish pan as a booster seat, with my ears open and my mouth shut--in awe of the conversation, for sure. I watched intently as my Grandpa ate his peas with a table knife, and lit up a cigar at the end of his meal.

I don't have any pictures of our family at that Sunday dinner table, and I wish I did. But I'm happy to have this one photograph of Grandpa Flanders' chickens! It stirs a memory of a very simple time in my life. And since the times we spent with our mother's parents were limited, it's nice to have a visual reminder of some of those days. 
Grandpa Flanders stands near in house in the south part of his yard as his grandson walks to join him, about 1947.

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