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Betty the Butcher: 1943

Betty the Butcher: 1943

June 1943. Washington, D.C. "Betty Jane Colbert, a worker at the Arcade butcher shop, dismembering a chicken." Medium format nitrate negative by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Chicken are real birds. With heads, feet, feathers, hearts, livers, etc.

Although I'm not the DIY-dressing type myself, I can remember times when there were not so many deep-freeze chickens around, and the fresh ones came all with their own kitchen relevant innards stuffed back in. Mom did need something for the stuffing, anyway.

Run around like chickens ...

Curious that the hen at left retained her head, given that decapitation was one of the three favorite ways to kill a bird for market. (The others are throat-slitting and neck-wringing, presumably what happened here.)

Cutting up a chicken is really quite simple; my mother taught me how as a boy, and I took to doing my own years ago because I got tired of the unidentifiable meat-sawed pieces from the supermarket. When I cut up a chicken, I get eleven pieces: two drumsticks, two thighs, two wings, two breast halves, wishbone, back, and giblets.

And the Toledo pricing scale is straight out of my childhood; the supermarket my great-aunt owned still had a full meat market with butchers, who would cut meat to order, weigh it out on the pricing scale, then wrap the cuts in layers of white butcher's paper and write on the prices with a grease pencil.

Cutting up chicken

I've got a brother who can cook a million kinds of delicious chicken but he can't stomach the cutting-up part. This gal is not loving what she's got to do. Also, look at the chicken profile in the left foreground: beak, eye, comb -- the head!

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