My maternal Grandma was one of my favorite people in the world. While I only saw her a few times a year, she always seemed happy to be around me and never seemed bothered by my endless chattering. I always felt like Grandma loved me unconditionally and I loved her back just as fiercely. The most random things bring back great memories of Grandma – like the taste of gingersnaps, the sight of anything that is broomstick crocheted, and the aroma of freshly baked bread. She loved to garden and to this day, whenever I drive by a home that is engulfed in an attractive, rather overgrown jumble of flowering plants, I think of Grandma and it makes me smile. As I mentioned in a previous post, Grandma also had a slightly wicked sense of humor and liked practical jokes, especially when she was a younger woman.
Back in the depression era, my grandparents were poor – but that wasn’t unusual in the town where they lived. Most everyone had a garden to help supplement meals, but meat was sometimes difficult to afford. One day, when they had a bit of extra money, Grandma and her friend concocted a fabulous practical joke to play on their husbands, who were hanging out at the house. They approached a local farmer and purchased two of his live chickens… then explained the joke to him and asked him for his help, which he was happy to provide.
Grandpa and his friend were in the small living room of the house, probably innocently discussing the weather or local town politics, when Grandma and her friend burst through the door, wide eyed and panting, as if they had been running through town. They were each clutching a furiously clucking and flapping chicken and they thrust the birds at their respective husbands, who instinctively grabbed them to keep them from getting loose.
“He’s coming!” gasped Grandma, as she and her friend headed for the backdoor.
“Who? What’s going on?” asked the men, now becoming alarmed.
“The FARMER!” Grandma shouted back over her shoulder as they headed out the door. “We stole those damn chickens and he’s right on our tail!”
As the women disappeared out the back, a pounding started at the front door. “I know they’re in there!” yelled the farmer, “They HAVE MY CHICKENS!”
Grandpa and his friend looked at each other and then around the room, wondering where they could stash the chickens and save their wives from going to jail. In desperation, Grandpa flipped open the sofa bed, they shoved the chickens inside, closed the sofa bed back up, and Grandpa’s friend sat on the sofa bed as Grandpa opened the door.
“Where are those crazy broads?” demanded the farmer as he shoved his way into the house, “I swear I saw them come in here!”
Grandpa and his friend looked innocently at the farmer, denying any knowledge of crazy women or stolen poultry, and nervously listening for any errant sounds from the chickens in the sofa bed. After some blustering and poking around the small house to make sure the women were not there, the farmer finally admitted defeat and left in a huff, muttering about “thieving dames” and what he was going to do if he ever laid eyes on them again.
When the dust settled, my Grandpa and his friend sat for a moment more in stunned disbelief over what had just happened. As they rose from the sofa bed, the backdoor opened and my Grandma, her friend, AND the farmer entered the house, laughing hysterically. There was some confusion, as the men processed what they were seeing and then, as they realized it was all a practical joke, they shook their heads and chuckled in relief, admitting that they had bought the ruse – hook, line, and sinker.
The farmer asked where they had stashed the chickens, as he had given the house a fairly good going over and hadn’t seen them anywhere – and the men looked at each other in alarm and ripped open the sofa bed – only to find both chickens somewhat crushed and very, very, dead. I guess it’s lucky Grandma and her friend had paid up front for those birds instead of just borrowing them. I’d also say it was fairly certain that the two families ate pretty well for the next couple of days. What I can’t tell you is if the farmer was also invited to dinner – but knowing my social Grandma, I’d say it was a good bet.