Category Archives: newton

Day 8: A vivid childhood memory—chickens are not sweet. They kind of scare me.

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I have been chased by a headless chicken.

All of sudden, the memory floats to the front of my mind: I see those little sticky legs, its flapping wings, its giant feathery chest—and yes, no head on that creature—and I laugh.

My dad’s side of the family is from the middle of Kansas. My grandparents, Ike and Helen, lived in a tiny little town called Lehigh. A town so small the high school closed two years after my dad’s graduating class in 1966. There was a post office, a car wash, and a Coop. That’s all folks.

I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents in the summers. Lehigh sat 40 minutes north of Newton, the town I grew up in until I was ten-years-old. I stayed a whole week in Lehigh every summer, going to their Mennonite Church’s Bible school, hanging out at my Aunt Joyce’s farm when I wasn’t in church or with grandma, and that’s where I encountered Ms. Headless Chicken, herself, ready to pounce on me.

One summer my cousins Leslie and Laura drove up from Oklahoma and spent the entire week with me and my grandparents. We learned about the farm. I remember the bull escaping from the pasture, holding my breath as Uncle Gerald worked him back behind the safety of the fence. My cousins and I tamed the farm kitties. We picked beans from the garden and prepped them for dinner. The cutest red calf cinnamon was born. His momma didn’t want him, so we helped out bottle feeding and bonded with him.

Back to those pesky scheming chickens. Well, they were being prepared for dinner(to put it nicely). I tried to hang back, far out of the way, but curiosity got me and I walked down the path from the house to the chicken coop, beyond the pigs and I saw it—a wild headless chicken flapping and flying straight my way! I think I screamed. I turned and I ran and that darn chicken chased me down the path, me thinking, it was part ghost part chicken not wanting to let go of life, wanting to get me somehow. It ran half way up the trail—Finally! Finally it fell limp. My cousins laughed. Leslie was always the super brave one.

“You can stop running Erika. The chicken is gone.”

Anyway (taking a big giant breath) I’ll never forget that summer. I love my family. I miss my family. We’re now scattered all over the place and it’s so hard to see each other.

Miss you cousins! Miss you aunts and uncles! I’ll never forget our memories together.