Yesterday I read excerpts from The Feedsack Dress to members of the Class of 1960, a group who grew up in the same rural Missouri area I did.
I stirred up childhood memories of choosing chicken feed based on the sack it came in, of cooling off with paper fans provided by a funeral home, and of killing and plucking chickens.
Everyone remembered the sight of a newly beheaded chicken hopping around and the awful smell after you dunked the bird into hot water to make it easier to pull out the feathers.
Those are sights and smells you don’t forget. A dozen people shared their recollections of their mother or grandmother or aunt wielding a hatchet or swinging a chicken around and around until its head came off.
These weren’t pleasant memories, but they brought home how much life has changed since the middle of the 20th century and how distant we now are from what we eat. One woman commented that her grandchildren didn’t even know chickens had bones until they were seven.
They’ll never know the distinct odor of wet chicken feathers.