I have written previously about my father and his chicken farm during the depression of the thirties. There is one memory of that time that has stayed with me to this day , about eighty years. A little background about the family seems warranted.
We were eight kids with a mother and father, Angie and Gus. The oldest was Mary, followed by Sammy, then Tony and Angelo who was about 18 at the time. Mikey was next at about 8, ( a ten year hiatus ). Then the twins Christo and Tina followed by the baby, Johnny.
These weren't the best of times for most people. Jobs were scarce , welfare was a naughty word and one persevered to keep food on the table and clothes on backs. The chicken farm , however, provided some income, meat on the table and lots of vinegar peppers and eggs.
One day , the younger kids ( Mikey, Christo, Tina and Johnny ) were overjoyed by the addition of a pet into the family. His name was Billy, an obvious choice since he was
referred to as a Billy Goat. We accepted him in both interpretations of the word , Kid. He was very young and not two sure on rubbery legs. The kids took turns with the new kid when it came to feeding , napping alongside and cleaning up after. We all participated in running games . Billy was able to stay with us when we zig-zagged through the chicken pens or waded through the brook. He loved to snuggle when he got tired...so did the other kids.
Billy had his own stall with a straw bed in the barn. He was not welcome in the house. The kids would have moved over in their beds to make room for him.
We were all dressed up in our new , handsewn Easter clothes and ready for church. We wanted to greet Billy but were told there wasn't time. After Mass , we expected the usual Sunday dinner of Roast Chicken but this was something different!
Angelo or one of the others from the older group told us to say hello to Billy who was presented in a roasting pan with his legs tied.
Tears flowed , sobs heard , food refused and the end of the world was nigh.
I still remember those bent ears , the black markings on the white body, the soulful, loving eyes, the joy of welcoming and most of all the following behind wherever we went.