John’s Live Poultry and Egg Market

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

J: John’s Live Poultry and Egg Market

In the 80’s, when I was married with a couple of kids and worked on the westside of Chicago, I frequented John’s Live Poultry and Egg Market on West Fullerton Ave. 

John’s reminded me of buying fresh chicken with my mother when we lived in Jersey City. I must have been six or seven years-old when my mother and I took the bus down Montgomery Avenue to the downtown markets. My mother led me into a large barn like store with sawdust on the floor and chickens in cages lined up along the walls. Mom gave her order. The worker in a long stained apron grabbed a chicken from the coop. With much squawking and feathers flying, he tied its legs and hung it by the cord upside down on a scale. I remember most that when the chicken was upside down it became very still. My mother agreed to the weight and the worker proceeded to slice the chicken’s neck. He dipped the carcass in a barrel with some sort of liquid which took off most of the feathers. Then rolled the body on a wheel-like contraption which removed any feathers that remained. I had watched the whole process mesmerized.

I waked into John’s Poultry store in Chicago after work one day looking for a fresh chicken for dinner. The man behind the counter told me I could pick out the chicken I liked from the cages to my right. I chose a white, clucking bird out of the many in the coop. He retrieved the bird and laid it on the scale. Just like when I was a child, the bird ceased to move. 

Times had changed since I visited the poultry store with my mother so many years ago. Now the killing and defeathering took place on the other side of a wall. 

After a few minutes of waiting, my name was called. I paid the bill and was handed a package wrapped in brown paper. The package was warm. The reality that I had chosen this chicken for death felt heavy on my chest. No longer a little girl mesmerized with the butchering process, I decided from then on, I would call my order in ahead of time.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.

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