CATS, CHICKENS, FRUIT & VEGETABLES IN BINGHAM
R. Eldon Bray –October
English, Hogan, and R-Dairies all delivered milk in Bingham during the 1920’s,
30’s and 40’s before insulated milk boxes and homogenization came into vogue.
The milk was delivered early in the morning and the bottles were generally left
on the customers’ porches before many of them were out of bed. The Turners and
Halversons were two of the families who lived in the Panos Apartments in
Frogtown. The Hogan Dairy would leave their bottles of milk by the front entry
just inside the vestibule which had no outside door. During the winter, unless
the milk was brought in quite soon, it would freeze in the bottles and expand
so that the cream would be forced up and out of the top to form a white column
a couple of inches high with the bottle cap
sitting on top. This created an
opportunity for the stray or feral housecats that lived nearby; they loved the
cream and also the milk – and here it was just waiting for them. The cats would
lick all the cream that was above the top of the bottle and then lick the cream
and milk as far down into the bottle as they could reach with their tongues.
The emergence from her apartment of an early-rising, angry, housewife would
cause the cats to scatter in all directions. The cats were a nuisance but no
harm, other than a loss of the cream, was known to result from drinking the
milk from which the cats had licked.
Hogans, besides the dairy, also had a farm on which they raised the cows and
other animals including chickens. They raised all their chickens in a large
coop. In the spring they separated the young roosters from the hens and turned
the roosters loose in the yard. They immediately were renamed “spring fryers”
and were sold for a good price – five for a dollar (twenty cents each). There
was, however, a slight difficulty associated with the purchase of these
bargain-price chickens. You had to catch them yourself and then you had to chop
off their heads and
take them home to be plucked and cleaned. The Turner boys
and their Dad gladly took part in this activity. They would chase the chickens
around the yard with a 6-foot, stiff wire that had the end bent into a hook.
The chickens would run like h---. The boys and their Dad would try to sneak up
on or corner the chickens but inevitably ended up chasing some of them as fast as
they could, with one arm outstretched before them with the wire in hand. Upon
catching a chicken’s leg in the hook the chicken would still struggle to escape
but they would pull it to them and grab the chicken with both hands. Then they
would carry it over to the chopping block where there was also an axe at hand.
They would, with one hand, hold the chicken with its neck on the block and,
with the axe in the other hand – chop! –. After catching and beheading all the
chickens they wanted, which was usually about five, they would pay for them,
put them into a box or gunny sack and take them home.
at the apartment, they would dip the chickens into a bucket of boiling water,
pluck the feathers, gut them and put them into the icebox. A day or so later
the family would often go up Butterfield Canyon for a picnic that featured
fried chicken, fresh peas, and new potatoes. They tasted great – the best
was also another source of chickens – the local fruit and vegetable peddler.
Judson Tolman, beginning in about 1924, came to Bingham twice a week with a
canvas-covered wagon pulled by two horses. The wagon was loaded mostly with
fruits and vegetables but on the back he had a cage that contained live
chickens. If a housewife wanted a chicken she was handed a live one to take
home. In later years the horse-drawn wagon was replaced with a 1929 truck with
wooden spokes and still later by a one-ton ’48 Ford. The live chickens were
replaced with fresh ones that had been processed the night before and put on
ice. Eventually chickens were no longer part of the goods sold in Bingham by
the Tolmans. Judson’s son, Orin, started helping with the route by going to the
upper parts of the canyon (including Copperfield and Highland Boy) while Judson
took care of the lower part of the canyon and Copperton. When Judson retired
Orin took over all of the Bingham business.