Today, I’m sharing a small section out of the book I’m planning to publish this winter about my wild grandfather, Luther Angell. Here he describes the farm that he lived on while growing up in Centralia, Missouri to me.

Left to Right: Buddy, Rosemary, and Luther Angell. Circa 1945

Left to Right: Buddy, Rosemary, and Luther Angell. Circa 1945

Luther says, “A few years later, we sold that little farm place and moved north up the road. The new farm was 16-acres. Today, the Centralia McDonald’s drive-thru and parking lot sit where our barns and house used to stand. It was a rundown farm; the ramshackle barns were just enough to get by. Everything was falling down and none of the gates or fences matched. Lets just say, it was no show place!”

He grins; it delights him to think a funny lookin’ farm used sit in the spot where folks now order their cheeseburgers and fries.

His voice booms, “Every kind of livestock imaginable roamed the farm at one time or another! We had dairy cows, hogs, goats, chickens, a couple horses, and a mean old rooster.”

He ticks off the long list of livestock, counting them out on his fingers. He remembers them like old neighbors.

He says, “Our laying hens were quite a disorganized bunch. We built little roosting boxes for them to have nests. We hoped they would peacefully lay their eggs, but they did not use the boxes. It was like a year-round Easter egg hunt with them old gals.”

As he describes the chickens, it almost sounds to me like he is describing the women of a church choir or the local Gardening Club.

He smiles again saying, “One time L.W. moved an old tractor and we found a dozen eggs laying all around it! No telling how long they were laying there before we found them. The eggs were all spoiled and we had to throw them out. I don’t know why they didn’t just use the nice roosting boxes we built for them!”

Luther was older at the second home, his memories are more descriptive and he’s begun helping with the family chores. Did these chickens mark the beginning of Luther’s legendary loathing and distain for chickens and all things fowl?

“Every day, our rooster attacked me!” Luther says angrily, “I swear he waited for me to come around the corner of the barn. Then, he pecked at my arms and legs until I dropped the bucket of feed. The grain would spill all over and he would fight me for it while I tried gathering it up off the ground. It seems like all roosters get mean when they are old.”

Luther leans back in his chair and adjusts his gray Stetson, remembering the barnyard bully. I’m sure now that it was the roosters and chickens at the farm that set Luther on the path of becoming an anti-chicken advocate. To this day, he won’t eat chicken or let any of his grandkids order chicken if he’s picking up the tab.

“Pound for pound, I bet me and that ol’ rooster were equal there for a few years.” He says seriously, “I was sure tired of getting beat up on. One day, I was ready for him! He came around the corner right at me and I wacked him upside the head with a bucket. I did that every day for about a week. Then, then that mean ‘ole rooster finally left me alone!

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