A St. Paul, Minnesota, Neighbourhood Story
The Chicken Coop Girl
((Based on actual experiences of 1961) (a Chick Evens story))
There were a whole bunch of kids in the Gedgley family, three boys and perhaps as many girls of St. Paul, Minnesota, and of the girls the cousin Fanny Kate Gedgley came to live with them, her, and her mother. She became known in the neighborhood that ran from Cayuga Street all along the Cemetery and down Jackson Street to Maryland Avenue, about a good mile and a half—as the Chicken Coop Girl, because in the Gedgley family there was no room for her and her mother to live for the summer of 1961 in the house, so they moved into the chicken coop they had fenced in, alongside of their house, and just across the empty lot was our house, where me and my brother Mike and my mother and grandfather lived.
She became well known in a short period of time. On summer evenings she went up and down our main neighborhood street, Cayuga Street, in the afternoons and near twilight, with a few of her family members—her age, and she was my brother’s age, about sixteen, wearing a light dress—most often—that seemed to stick to her body. She had long straggly brownish hair, thin as a board; watermelon seeds for eyes, and her ears were as thin as potato chips; her skin was pale to dirty light brown.
On almost any weekend evening, she might have been sitting forth on the prowl, so it appeared until she caught my brother’s eye, from which thereafter, she did not return to the likes of the neighborhood boys. She stuck with Mike. It was evident too, if anybody, her adventures in the neighborhood was profitable. Although I was always curious, if that chicken coop would not purchase for her and my brother an endless number of new diseases.
When summer was over, and Mike had to go back to school, Fanny Kate had quit High School, and was about to move with her mother elsewhere, and her and Mike plunged in there, still clinging to one another, and even marriage came up—the chicken coop girl was spiraled bobbing up and down in the sweet current of the affair. Mike seemingly submerged like a tree with its roots deep into her future.
She may have thought of it as the most beautiful thing she had ever encountered, or perhaps wanted to get married so she’d not have to return to that chicken coop someday—who’s to say, but in any case, somehow it had lost its beauty for Mike, and a few weeks later, it fell under the eyes of my dear mother, who saw the disheveled remains of it, clutched in her obscure woman’s hand, she dismissed it—and assured my brother (not so tenderly), the current was too narrow to survive in.
No: 639 (12-23-2010)