Page 27 - Autobiography of a Law School
P. 27

Wanting a Seersucker Suit, 1933-1952

for a crop of calves barely covered their winter feed, but the few
dollars they brought every fall saved us from starvation. At sale
time I grieved along with the mother cows that lowed the entire
night trying to recall their offspring from their journey to slaughter. 7

          We ordered baby chicks by mail and kept them warm by a
kerosene lamp until they were big enough to survive outside. The
water they drank was made pink by a medicine supposed to ward
off some mysterious poultry disease. A few of the chickens that
survived hawks and possums augmented our protein-poor diet, but
left me with little taste for poultry, however prepared. There was no
market for chickens, but we could sell infertile eggs for a few
pennies per dozen. Each egg was hand-stamped with our name to
assure buyers they could find us if a chick embryo turned up at
breakfast. One day, I looked into a hen’s nest and spotted a coiled
chicken snake, gorged on eggs and sound asleep. Chicken snakes
are not poisonous, but at close range they trigger the same
instinctive fear as a rattlesnake. The snake slithered away, but we
knew it would return. Acting on a neighbor’s advice, we slit the
shells of several eggs and inserted single-edged razor blades, hoping
the snake would swallow an egg whole, then squeeze its belly and
engage the blade. After we planted a few doctored eggs, the snake
stopped visiting. Our effort to raise rabbits for food was aborted
because none of us could eat pets we had named Buck, Blue, and
Molly.

         We managed enough food to get by, and there were even a
few days when we had beef to eat. One day, I suppose after selling
the year’s crop of calves, we had four little pieces of round steak for

7 Local residents talked about the government’s slaughtering cows to correct the
market by reducing the supply. After digging a pit, workers herded cows and calves
into it to be shot. I was told rifles got so hot they jammed before the last cow was
dead and earth could be closed over the still-bleeding carcasses.

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