On a cool, Sunday morning a single shot erupted from a shotgun. Not a word was spoken before or after. As the noise from the gun moved away from us at the speed of sound, quiet settled upon us as a wet, woolen blanket. One lay dead and the other, satisfied, went back to bed.
Sundays in this farming community meant you rested. Rest meant you cooked, you ate, you went to church and you visited friends or they visited you. I never understood how visitation worked. Very few times did we go somewhere and there was no one home. It seemed as if there were an unwritten schedule that coordinated, reliably, who was to stay home and who was to visit.
No one ever came to visit before dinner. Ever. It just wasn’t done. Sunday mornings early, were quiet peaceful, and for the kids, the only day we could watch cartoons. We got up at 5:30am every Sunday morning and quietly crept into the living room. Being quiet was essential. The cartoons came on at 6:00am and we sat motionless in our designated chairs waiting for them to start. Usually, by the time the third grown up emerged through the door that accessed a hall where the three bedrooms were, cartoon time was over. We expected to get thirty minutes of Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, and the Tasmanian Devil, but always hoped for an hour. Sometimes we got it.
This Sunday started out like every other Sunday and, for the most part, it ended like every other Sunday. There was no doubt, however, a few minutes in the mid-morning changed how my brother and I perceived the circle of life…and death.
Papa was usually third to arrive in the kitchen. Granny, always first to arise, would quietly shut the door to the bedroom hallway and move gently to the kitchen, barely speaking to my brother me sitting in the living room as she passed between us. She was headed to make the best biscuits I have ever eaten. She made them every day. Shortly after, my mother would follow, look at us, and then the television. Each Sunday, as if our choice of viewing was a surprise to her, she would, with a slight furrow in her brow, express her disappointment. She usually gave us until Papa woke up and made his way through the door that separated those in slumber from those awake to watch the cartoons that would give us some fodder to dispense at school the next week where we struggled to maintain the notion we were like everybody else at the private school we attended.
This Sunday morning PaPa didn’t feel well. After eating breakfast, he would normally go outside, play with his dog, Blackboy, a solid black mostly airdale mix, walk around the driveway and survey the color of the pasture grass from afar.
This morning was different. He ate his biscuits, drank his coffee from the saucer he had poured it in so it would cool quickly, and went back to bed. He hardly said a word. Normally, we kids would be happy because we would get more tv time if someone needed more sleep, but this morning we were worried because Papa was not just tired. He didn’t feel well. We did get more tv time and outside, a cock began to crow.
Roosters were the time clocks of our farm. They would start about 10 minutes before daylight and would continue, intermittently, every four or five minutes for about an hour. Thirty five years later, hearing a rooster crow, moves my body, involuntarily from sleep to action.
This morning one particular rooster took issue with tradition. My brother and I noticed it and a couple of times even went to peer out the window set two-thirds of the way from the bottom of the door to watch the rooster crow relentlessly. The rooster crowed every few minutes between daylight and about 815a. I am still amazed that the rooster didn’t get hoarse or pass out from exhaustion.
In one moment, the rooster stopped crowing and lay down still. It had finally happened. The rooster died. Natural death was not this rooster’s destiny. As my brother and I watched television, cartoons, maybe even Foghorn Leghorn, Papa had slipped quietly from the hall of slumber, passed between us and the television, taken his shotgun from the coat closet and with one quick motion, opened the door and shot the rooster dead from thirty yards.
He replaced the shotgun and ambled back through the door. No one tried to explain or have a discussion about the incident. No one ever spoke of it. About 30 minutes later, granny moved from the kitchen through the living room, passing between us and through the door that led to the outside. A few minutes later, she returned with the rooster. Waste not, want not. At 12:15am, after church, we at the rooster.
This is a true story. Other ways to have chicken for Sunday dinner is to simply go to:
Columbus Georgia Restaurants
Maybe you miss the cartoons, but you miss the gun play too.