Chicken Power

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.
I am in the midst of mine.
For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.
The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

For a good part of my career I worked in a beautiful building paid for by chickens. Chicken feed, as you may know, used to be a synonym for an insignificant sum of money. Those who still use that term haven’t checked the price of chicken feed lately. It took a while for the chickens to put the project together. We’ll pick up the story in the middle, then flash back.

The white suit and distinguished mustache and goatee belied the gentleman’s background as a farmer, streetcar conductor, railroad fireman, insurance salesman, and filling station/restaurant owner. His head was rich with elegant white hair, but his pocket was poor with its $100 a month social security check; his sole income since the new highway ran him out of business. He sold out at a loss, and retired. But the gentleman carried a secret in his mind and a dream in his heart. That’s why he was in Chicago at this convention and not home in a rocking chair on the back porch.

“If I ever get to Salt Lake City I’ll cook you a chicken dinner,” he said to a restaurant owner he had just met. The man smiled. They shook hands and parted.

But surprise. Some time later the gentleman turned up at the restaurant man’s door and said, “I have come to make good on my promise.” The visitor called for several pressure cookers, various spices and ingredients, and labored in the kitchen for most of the night.

The restaurant man figured he had an eccentric all talk no do wanderer on his hands. The visitor seemed to have bitten off more than any of them could chew. In fact, it looked as though none of them would be chewing anything. Nine hours the stranger pored over his pots and pans and frustrations. Still no chicken dinner.

But at length he called his hosts in and invited them to partake. They did so, mostly to humor him. The restaurant man and his wife tentatively lifted the chicken to their lips, took a bite, looked at each other and smiled. They both knew gastronomical gold even in the rough.

They spent the next few days preparing to give this new dish a little trial run at their restaurant. By Saturday they had an ample supply and production facilities to test the new offering, or so they thought.

As the marketing people say a new product has got to “have legs” to be successful. This chicken had legs; Olympic caliber legs. It took off running all over Salt Lake City. People savored the flavor, devoured the dish, phoned their friends, and hollered at their neighbors to hustle down and treat their taste buds. No way the restaurant could keep up with the stampeding appetites. They had the world’s greatest marketing problem, over demand. They eventually solved it in a national and worldwide way.

Just before they opened the store on that momentous Saturday they remembered the new dish ought to have a name.

“What shall we call it?” Mrs. Harman said.

Her husband Pete replied, “Well Mr. Sanders says he is from Kentucky, and that the governor there once gave him the honorary title of colonel. Why don’t we call it Colonel Sander’s Kentucky Fried Chicken?” And they did.

Years later Pete Harman wanted to honor his Aunt Cary. She had reared him from the time he was six hours old and his mother, Cary’s sister, died giving birth to him. Caroline Hemenway Harman was also “Aunt Cary” to folks all over the western side of Salt Lake Valley. Though a widow she also took in her sister’s other children. Combined with her offspring the brood numbered 14. She later married her deceased sister’s husband but he passed away a few years later. Her third husband suffered a debilitating illness shortly after they were married. She nursed him as he lay bedridden for years until he died.

Through all this Aunt Cary organized, and directed her flock of children and provided for them with her larger flock of a thousand chickens. She also cared for the needy of her area as president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 19 years. When the well went dry in the depression years of the 1930’s she turned down the government subsidy she was entitled to. Her boys hauled water to the flock until she could save enough to get the well back in service. She worked herself into diabetes, “Served when she should have been served, and never uttered a complaint,” according to her adopted son Pete. If ever a woman deserved to have her heroic name chiseled in granite it would be the unsinkable Aunt Cary. And thus it is in a stone monument in front of the building bearing her name at Brigham Young University.

Fitting that her name should be praised, and appropriate that the money came from Pete’s gold strike in fried chicken.

The lessons from these stories? Numerous.

From the Colonel, we learn that dreams come true at many stages in life in many ways. The secret is to never give up on your dreams and always keep an eye open for the next opportunity.

From Aunt Cary, who according to Pete was cheerful and resourceful all her days, the secret to a successful life is serving others.

And for me blessed to labor in the beautiful building Aunt Cary built? Go thou and do likewise. I have no hankerings to build an international corporate empire like the Colonel’s. And I think I would collapse under the burdens Aunt Cary carried.

But we do have 120 chickens or so up the hill behind our house ready to go romp in our pasture land as soon as the weather warms. Our sons Bob and Dan manage the operation and we other members of the family help out.

Our neighborhood egg business generates a few dollars, gives us a chance to work together, and is producing a fine crop of grandsons and daughters.

I do like the chicken motif in these stories. All of us have some secret desires incubating inside us. Even if they seem impossible, keep them warm, keep them alive. Some day to our surprise we may see that little egg hatch and watch that chicken run, maybe even fly. And perhaps one day the boys will name the chicken coop after me.

What do you think about this part of the book?
Everybody I know is busy, including me. Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.
I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)
The questions are these:
“A” How much did you enjoy this?
“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:
1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.
2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts
3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary
4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to
5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door
So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, but since that that would probably be from my mother and she has passed away, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)
Also feel free to add comments if you like.
Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.