††††† Chicken Execution†††††
††††††††† I was sixteen, in high school, and vacation was approaching. I made plans with Irving Krasner whom I met and befriended at the Turn Verein Vorvats (a German gym which later was part of the German American Bund) Thatís another story.† I will stay with an incident during the first year trip. There was little income for the family and it was a relief for my father if I was not a burden.† We became vagrants on wheels. That was the year we left to pedal to Niagara Falls.† The next year we worked odd jobs and stole produce from farmers, biked to Florida where we were arrested as vagrants.
††††††††† I left home with a dollar and twenty cents.† Irv had two dollars and seventy cents.† It was easy biking since we would hitch on to trucks for most of the way. We selected trucks with tail gates with chains that rumbled along at some forty miles an hour and we would hold on to the chains on either side of the truck for many miles.† We stole vegetables from roadside farms and ate what while we camped in a tent I carried in my knapsack.†
††††††††† While pedaling I had noticed that chickens from adjacent farms would be on the road eating bugs that were killed on the highway.† The chickens would look in the direction of threatening vehicles and noise and scurry back to safety.† I outlined my plan to Irv.† I rode a hundred yards ahead of him singing and as I approached the chickens would scurry to safety and return† after I passed.† Irv would be in the distant pedaling slowly and making noise.† The chickens watched him too far away to be dangerous.† I turned my bike around and raced back into the flock of chickens and managed to hit one and pick up the stunned bird.†††††
††††††††† Farther down the road in a quiet spot we camped, gathered wood and made a fire.† The chicken had recovered and was very much alive.† We were hungry.† I handed an ax to Irv and told him to kill the chicken so we could eat it.† He refused.† I had an idea.† I turned my bike upside down.† The chicken clucked as I put the chickenís head through the rear wheel spokes and had Irv hold it.† I grabbed the pedal and cranked it.† The spokes guillotined the chicken.† Joe dropped the severed head and gasped while the body fluttered and beat its wings for awhile.† I dressed the chicken and roasted it.† Irv would not eat.† Laden with some guilt, I ate.†