The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Mike Sunderland
Thoughts from a Grey-haired Point of View 

Dust and Chickens


February 16, 2022 | View PDF

In the late 40’s and early 50’s dust storms (and this was before climate change, too!) roared through the plains and

I remember one in particular. I was spending some time with grandma and grandpa Sunderland in Kiowa, Kansas, where they operated a cafe near the railroad station.

While there a duster blew in and all but closed things down for several days. Sheets, towels and anything else that could be crammed into the cracks and crevices around doors and windows proved useless in keeping out the dust. I was not quite 5 years old, but the memory is still strong after all these years.

At night I had to pull the sheet up over my head to keep the dust out of my nose and mouth. In the morning there would be a thick layer of dust on top of the sheet. During the day we wore handkerchiefs over our noses and mouths, even when inside their cafe, or home (it was part of the cafe building tacked on behind).

Going outside was an unpleasant adventure. The privy was outback and when one of those big storms brewed up my grandparents rigged a rope between the back door and the moon house. The swirling sand and dust was often so thick you couldn’t see more that a few feet and the rope was the only sure way of finding your way there and back again.

Sometimes the air was so thick with dust that the sun was all but blotted out and at noon it was more like late evening. Between the roaring, shrieking of the wind and the choking dust, those storms made life miserable in the extreme.

Nonetheless visits with Orville and Utha were great times. Besides being fun to be around, Orville was quite a storyteller and there were the goodies that they baked. Grandpa always had a funny story to tell to a customer and his favorite grandson, being the only one they had then. He could always get me to smile and laugh.

Both of them cooked and were good at it, but grandma did something special when I visited. She baked pies for the café – apple, peach and I don’t remember what other kinds. When I visited she would always, accidentally on purpose, make more pie dough than she needed for the pies. The extra dough was rolled out, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and baked to a delicate light crispy brown.

It was delicious with milk and better than cookies. In spite of being poor as church mice, they managed to find ways of spoiling me. What I wouldn’t give to have another piece of grandma Sunderland’s cinnamon crisps! I’ve had them from other sources, but they just don’t seem to be as good as the ones I remember grandma making.

Like I said, the visits were mostly great times, but there was one experience I had with them that I would have just as soon done without. One of the favorite items on their menu was home-style fried chicken that beat Col. Sander’s in a walk.

As with most of what they cooked the ingredients were as fresh as could be had, including the chicken. They had bought several hens and a rooster and kept them out back of the cafe. When they needed fresh eggs or a hen to cook all they had to do was go out back. One afternoon, I followed grandpa out back and soon wished I hadn’t.

He went to the chicken pen and pulled out a nice plump hen, took her to a tree stump and picked up the nearby axe. Before I knew what was happening, grandpa neatly separated the chicken’s head from the body. He let the body flop around, spraying blood all over the place, until it finally quit moving. Even though I loved fried chicken, it was some time after that before I could eat chicken again. But get over it I did, and I enjoy a nice, crispy chicken drumstick whenever the budget allows.

Life is a learning experience. Not every experience is pleasant or fun. To expect, much less demand that you will never have to face and deal with unpleasant things in your life is a fantasy. This is the lie the liberal media and politicians use to try and hypnotize us into blindly following their plans for America’s future.

The reality of the future they propose will result in the destitution and enslaving of all but the richest and more politically influential. You and I will be taxed and regulated into poverty. America will be reduced to being a Venezuelan twin.

If that is not your idea of a future fit for you and your children, then it is time to stand up and fight against this trend ­– peacefully, of course. We don’t want to give the pansy liberals heart failure.


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