It is hot and humid here today, which always reminds me of my childhood trips to the Lake of the Ozarks. Every year my Aunt Kathleen, Aunt Betty Lou and Uncle Harold took all of us kids for a week to the lake. None of these relatives had children of their own and God only knows what possessed them to take a bunch of wild ragamuffins with them on their only vacation of the year. I always suspected it was to save us from certain death. As the heat and humidity rose – so did my mother’s level of crankiness.
We stayed at an ancient resort filled with other childless couples. At least I don’t remember any other kids being there, but we tended to scare most people away, so I could be wrong about this. Our only assignment each day was to leave the cabin after breakfast and not return until we were called.
On the last day of the trip Uncle Harold gave us $1 apiece and dropped us off in the old tourist part of town called Dogpatch. I loved it. The shelves of the little store were filled with shiny containers of old-fashioned candy. Row upon row of salt and pepper shakers shaped like outhouses tempted me but were out of my price range.
In front of the store was a huge statue of Lil’ Abner. He stood near a pool of water that was refilled by a giant water faucet floating in mid air. Behind the store was a graveyard called Boot Hill. An old cowboy boot stuck out of one of the graves. As I hurried by, the boot moved back and forth. But where I spent my time and money was on – – The Amazing Dancing Chicken! I shoved nickel after nickel into the slot to watch the happy little chicken do her dance. Oh yes, it was a magical place.
One year, as I stood next to the miraculous faucet pouring water from thin air, I was able to see the clear tube that held it aloft. When I walked by the scary graveyard I noticed a rip in the boot, which exposed the mechanics making it move. I was crushed…until I saw the sign “See the Dancing Chicken!”
I ran over to her box and slid my nickel in. It dropped out to the change slot where a sign read .25 cents. I begged a quarter from my older brother and pushed it through the slit. My chicken started her dance about the same time that I noticed a hole in the bottom of her cage. To my horror, I discovered that what made my happy little chicken dance was the fact that the floor heated up and she was jumping around trying not to burn her feet.
“Oh, no!” you say. “How horrible!”
You’re right, it was. So why am I sharing this story? Because it’s hot and humid today and I’m cranky.
This brought back memories of schmoos, not chickens. i loved schmoos as a kid. They lived in Dogpatch. Dogpatch is real?! i was beginning to think the only schmoo I’d every see would be the mechanical one in Caprica. Did you know that he has his own blog?
What wonderful imagery. Certainly brought back memories for me. I still remember going to the candy store down the street for penny candy. I guess as we’ve grown it all changes and we realize and see things we never saw before. Ahhhh, for that wonderful innocence again. But we do grow up and become more aware, and though the innocence leaves the compassion begins, and maybe that’s what it’s all about. Hopefully, our children have some of the same wonderful memories we had as we grew up.
kindly reminds me to home in arkansas. the chickens didn’t dance but they ran around with their heads off in our backyard.during the second world war my grandmother and her chickens moved in.
Hmmm. Would my kids take me AND my chickens? I think not.
I especially love “but we tended to scare most people away, so I could be wrong about this” . . . and the description of Dogpatch. Classy place!!
i don’t know if i find this funny or if i should feel bad for the damn chicken. but anyways it’s gonna end up in somebody’s dinner plate sooner or later.
I find it is always best to be sorry for something – so I’m sorry for the chicken. Thanks for commenting!
“hot tin roof”. I have no idea what a “hot tine roof” is, except bad typing.
Reminds me of that song we horrible children sang, “Oh, I had a little chicken and it wouldn’t lay an egg so I poured hot water up and down its leg. And the little chicken cried and the little chicken begged and the little chicken laid a hard boiled egg.” Funny as a child, but not so much as an adult especially with so many “literal” children around these days.
What’s worse is I hear an electronic version of this song every time the ice cream truck comes down the street. Haunted by my cruel childhood pleasure taken at that little abused chicken’s expense.
Isn’t that like a cat on a hot tine roof?
I know, the songs we sing, right? One of my little brothers’ name is Rick. We used to sing over and over and OVER. “Rickiy Ticky Tav-eye, fell in the lav-eye!” I’m not even sure what it meant but it bugged him and that was the important part.