Thursday, October 2, 2014

Believe It Or Not, My Family Really Is Civilized

My great aunt Daisy was born in 1900, the youngest of three children born to Isaac and Minnie Jefferson. Her brother, Thomas (my grandfather), was ten years older than her; her sister, Edith, was six years older. She was the baby and spoiled rotten.

How rotten, you ask?

The family let her have a pet chicken.

How does that make her spoiled rotten?

They let her keep the pet chicken IN THE HOUSE.

There's more.

They let the chicken roost at night on the back of a dining room chair, newspapers spread on the floor beneath it.


Neither Daisy nor her sister ever married, and they lived together their entire lives. My brother and I spent many, many happy hours at their home while growing up, where WE were thoroughly spoiled and were never told "no" (except for the one time I BEGGED them to buy me a darling little monkey that was in the pet section of a store we had gone to when I was about 7, and they didn't IMMEDIATELY say no; they actually gave it at least a moment's consideration, but, wisely, thought better of it). Edith (or "Ecie" as we called her) did the cooking and the cleaning. She paid the bills, fixed things that were broken (including cars, on occasion), took care of the household.

But Daisy? She was always the baby, the spoiled one, until she passed away at 83. She was the one who played games with us. And watched soap operas. And made fudge and popcorn balls. Who was a picky eater and was catered to her by her family her entire life. She was fun.

And she once had a freakin' pet chicken! How awesome is that?


Daisy and her chicken, ca. 1912

This post was an entry for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop with the prompt:


Throwback time! Share an old photo and tell us about it.

26 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun woman; both women admired and loved by their family. :)

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    1. They were SUCH fun to be with! I need to write more in-depth about them, as they were my "grandparents" on my mother's side.

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  2. I wish I could have met your great aunts!

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    1. Me, too, Christine! And I really wish my kids could have met them. Daisy died in 1983 and Ecie in 1978. Their brother, my grandfather, died 3 weeks after I was born.

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  3. I never met her but I love her, both of them. Reminds me of my grandmother and her siblings. They taught us to take care of each other. Lovely picture and post!

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    1. Thanks, Joy! She and her sister never said a cross word to me or my brother. Ever.

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  4. Doesn't everyone grow up with a chicken pooping in the house? This is a great story.

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    1. Apparently not, Vanessa. And I grew up knowing she had had a pet chicken, but it wasn't until earlier this year that my mom casually mentioned the chicken slept on the back of a dining room chair!

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  5. What a great story! Your aunt sounds quirky and fun. When I was about 8 or 9, somehow we acquired a baby chick. I kept it in my room, but didn't close the door at night because I was afraid of the dark. Our cat got the poor chick. I was bummed because I was supposed to bring it to school for show and tell and when I woke up, all that was left was the feet and the beak. Glad your aunt's chicken survived!

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    1. I often wonder what happened to the pet chicken when it died. Hopefully, they didn't do what your cat did to your chick!

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  6. How fun! I guess I never heard of anyone letting a pet chicken roost in the house before ... Glad they were such loving and caring relatives for you!

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    1. You would think they lived in a cave instead of a house, wouldn't you? (I'd say in a barn, but my friend Zoe actually DOES live in a barn.)

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  7. Very awesome! What great aunts you had. I guess they did have limits, though.

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  8. What no monkey? What was the chicken name?

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    1. My great aunts knew full well that my mom would have KILLED them if they had bought the monkey, but I do remember them looking at each other and saying "Well..."

      My mom can't remember what the chicken's name was, which is a bummer. But naming your chicken (or MY chicken, as I think of it) "Daisy Dillon" is perfection!

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  9. I love that photo. Something in her face says some part of her realized an indoor chicken roosting on the dining room chair really does suggest she might be a tad spoiled, but what the heck!
    I too had a pet chicken. It fell off a poultry truck going through town during a bad storm. Thought she was a rooster and named her Fredrick. Yet another odd overlap in our midwestern histories!

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    1. It fell off a poultry truck in a storm? You can't make stuff like that up!

      Our upbringings were way too similar!

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  10. What a great post! I've loved the photo from the first time you shared it, and now I feel like I know Daisy (and her sister) even better.

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    1. Isn't that picture awesome to have, from a time when pictures were pretty rare? I really must write more about the two of them.

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  11. Was this the aunt for whom Zoe named her chicken?

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    1. YES! This is the one! I wanted to include the part about her namesake chicken at Zoe's, but I couldn't figure out how to get it in the story. Next time!

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  12. You have the coolest aunts ever...and that photo is a treasure! I can only imagine the stories you would have to tell if they had said yes to the monkey. ;)

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    1. They were so much fun! My brother and I always wanted to go live with them (they lived in a little town about an hour's drive away from us). I will never forget that look they exchanged when I was begging for that monkey. For just that moment, I was almost a monkey owner!

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  13. I love old family stories and pictures. Your title reminded me of my family!

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    1. That's both comforting and frightening, Rachel!

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