Back in the day, if you wanted a chicken for Sunday dinner you had to grow it and kill it yourself. It was back around this time in history, when most everyone had a few chickens in the yard, that Ahtee Crider began his odyssey as a chicken tycoon.
He first began processing a few chickens, cleaning them by hand, and selling them on Saturday morning behind the fish market. This progressed rather quickly as he was able to sell more and more of them and soon his need for chickens outstripped the supply. Thus was born the poultry industry of Coffee County.
Mr. Crider was going around asking certain farmers to grow poultry for him when he came upon my Uncle Elie who, after learning he could make some hard cash for what seemed like hardly any work at all, readily agreed to grow a flock for Mr. Crider. Uncle Elie converted a mule barn into a chicken house, installed roost poles, obtained heaters and drinkers and was ready for his first flock which soon arrived.
The chicks were well tended by Uncle Elie’s wife, Aunt Wyldolph, and after a few months were ready for slaughter.
Uncle Elie, a good and gentle man but with an unfortunate weakness for strong drink, went out and celebrated his soon expected windfall. He came home about midnight, undressed and fell into bed. All he had on was his long handled underwear which was the kind with a trapdoor on the butt. This was because hardly anyone had indoor plumbing and therefore a trap door was convenient for those late night and cold jaunts to the privy. When he went to bed, his trap door flap only had one button; the other had long since snapped off.
In the wee hours, the chickens began raising sand and Uncle Elie was awakened by the fuss and jumped out of bed. Grabbing his double barreled 10 gauge, he stumbled out the door, still lightheaded and unsteady from the night’s festivities. As he got close to the poultry barn, he could tell there was some kind of varmint inside by the ruckus the birds were making. He got down on his hands and knees so he could creep up on the varmint and this put undue pressure on the sole remaining button of his flap and it popped off.
The flap fell down exposing his bare bottom but there was no time for modesty, the birds had to be saved from whatever, or whoever, was threatening them.
Uncle Elie crawled up and eased the door of the chicken barn open and poked the massive 10 gauge double barrel through the opening.
Just then, Old Tick, the coon hound, slipped up behind Uncle Elie and stuck his cold, wet, coon dog nose right in the bull’s eye, thus causing a calamity. Both barrels went off prematurely and simultaneously cleaned two whole roost poles of poultry.
The possum that caused this catastrophe beat a hasty retreat, leaving Aunt Wyldolph, Uncle Elie and all the farm hands that could be mustered cleaning chickens until noon the next day.
From this humble beginning came the billion dollar industry we now know. Great Uncle Elie would be proud.