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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Chicken Man: 1941

Chicken Man: 1941

Fall 1941. Somewhere in Massachusetts or upstate New York. Plucking the bill of fare for a roadside chicken joint. Photo by John Collier. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Cluck cluck

My grandmother kept chickens, and once a year in the spring we would butcher them. Neither of my grandparents used the axe-and-tree-stump method of killing chickens. My grandfather would take the bird by the head and spin it; the neck would break and the body would fly off to flop around on the ground. The head was given to the dog. My grandmother had a cast-iron lid about 24" in diameter; she put the chicken's head under the lid, stepped on the lid, and pulled on its feet. After the bodies stopped flopping around, they were dipped in boiling water to loosen the feathers. My job as a boy was to pluck them, which I did out behind the shed with my grandfather. Once they were plucked, they went inside to the kitchen where my grandmother and mother cut them up and put them in bags to freeze. We ate lots of chicken in the summer and fall.

Nicest turkey

When my sister and I were kids (late 50s and early 60s) the day before every Thanksgiving our grandfather would take us to a turkey farm owned by a friend of the family in Plymouth, MA. The turkeys were grouped in a fenced areas (I now assume) according to size. My sister and I would be let into one of the pens to run around and play with them for a while, then my grandfather would ask us which we thought was the nicest and prettiest turkey. We'd then head out to get an ice cream, come back an hour or so later, and pick up a turkey (in the form we were used to from grocery stores) for Thanksgiving dinner. My sister and I were adults before we figured out what was really going on there.

4 Years, 50 Weeks

As I approach the 5-year mark as a Shorpy member I'd like to offer my sincere thanks to Dave and Team Shorpy for making this site so interesting and amusing, and to my fellow Shorpy devotees for their insightful and humorous comments. I've had the site listed in my "Top Sites" page on my browser since the day I discovered it and I imagine there it will stay.

I visit the site when I need a little inspiration or when I need a little diversion. I have referred many friends to Shorpy, have set many photos found here as my background and screensavers, and have ordered prints for my office and as gifts. I even discovered that a relative (by marriage) may be related to Shorpy Higginbotham himself.

The Intertubes have become integral to 21st Century living, and Shorpy has provided an important online connection to our past. Thanks for all you do.


"I can eat fifty eggs."

Goober Pea

Spot on chicken

Killing a chicken on the spot is totally reasonable. If they kill it before and nobody orders, they are out money. Modern day lobster tank.

Waiting for your chicken

This is the story my grandmother told; I suppose it is true (?): Her husband's family had a farm and roadside restaurant in Wappengers Falls, NY. When a customer ordered chicken one of the boys would go out to the pen, kill one and prepare it on the spot. Does this seem reasonable to you?

Chicken Little

Too scrawny for me. I prefer the nice plump chemical filled ones we have today. I expect my chickens to be the size of turkeys and my turkeys to be the size of emus.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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