I might have been six years old when I went to the Brookville Hotel to eat family-style chicken.
Of course, the famous restaurant was located in the city of Brookville.
What I remember most was that it was a long drive.
So much for first impressions.
Hey, I was six.
To us, the Brookville Hotel in Abilene was a special place to dine.
On special occasions or when entertaining out of town guests, often Brookville Hotel with its unique atmosphere was the place to go.
And sometimes, just for the heck of it, we would just carryout. That often resulted in a dinner for two of us and lunch for me the following day.
The Brookville Hotel closed last month because of the stay-at-home order that closed restaurants as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owners Mark and Connie Martin donated supplies to the Abilene school district. Its future is unknown.
So let’s talk chickens, especially since there is a rooster running loose in my neighborhood. I have been told it’s pretty fast. We’ve sighted it once.
My family raised chickens on its hobby farm south of Abilene.
My dad, John, was the supervisor of postal operations at the Abilene Post Office. SPO was painted on his parking space.
Naturally, working for the postal service, he got his chickens by mail.
This was long before there was Priority Mail Express that guarantees its overnight delivery which really means overnight to 2 days.
(An unusual editorial comment is coming, so you might want to skip the next paragraph.)
Don’t get me wrong. I knew those postal employees back then and a few today and they are dedicated workers, maybe unlike some of our politicians who are making up the rules.
Back then, if you subscribed to the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle by mail, you got it the next day, everywhere.
It was the same with the boxes of chicks. I was at the post office the day they arrived as us rug rats were allowed in the back to grab an occasional soda.
They all arrived in good health.
We had a chicken coop and fed them just like some of your ancestors did in the late 1800s, by sprinkling grain on the ground.
We always had a fresh supply of eggs.
After a few months it was time to send some of those chickens to the freezer.
There is a lot of truth to the old saying “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
That was the result of the first line of duty. Sometimes, just for fun, dad would let one run loose after it met the ax.
The second step was to boil a big pot of water. Dad would dip the chicken into the hot water and my mother, Nelda, and sometimes us kids, started pulling off the feathers.
Of course, as you hunters know, there is a little more work to be done before the chickens are tightly wrapped and placed in the freezer.
My wife, Kathy, has similar memories at her grandparents’ farm in Concordia, blanching and cleaning chickens which is why she is probably gritting her teeth reading this part.
Pan fried chicken was always a Sunday evening favorite at the Brookville Hotel and consequently, at the Horan household. Let’s hope when this pandemic has run its course, that famous chicken dinner will be available again.