Of the four churches within about a block of our family’s home, the Methodists were the most fascinating. Their impressive, grey-stone church stood just across the street from us, in our old, Elk County, PA, borough.
My sisters and I were raised Catholic but had friends from other churches, including the Methodist minister’s daughters, who were our age. For one reason or another, we often ended up inside the beautifully crafted spaces of their aged church. The place had a good vibe.
After attending an evening talk by a lively, Methodist missionary, my older sister, who would have been about 10 then, brought home, from the church, small cubes of rattlesnake meat, which really did taste like chicken. Her cool factor doubled when she plugged us into the rattlesnake experience.
I was probably eight when I came home, stupefied, from the church, following a morning at the Methodist’s summer camp. “Mom,” I asked, “did you know Jesus had brothers and sisters?” “Well,” she said uncomfortably, “the Methodists may believe that, but.…” I figured it out—people believe different things.
When my younger sister, Sara, was about six, she came running home after a spring event at the Methodist church. She left a used, paper lunch bag on a table and ran back out to play.
After some time, it was Dad who noticed the brown bag moving.
“Sara,” he called out to her, cautiously, through an opened window, “what’s in the bag?”
“Oh, that’s Click and Clack,” she replied, smiling, before running off again.
Carefully, inside the bag, he discovered two, silent, baby chickens tucked into the corner. He sighed.
It turned out that every kid in my little sister's group had received a pair of peeps during the event. Dad planned to return the chicks to the Methodists, but Sara had named them and wouldn’t hear of it. So, reluctantly, he made an incubator, in the basement, from an old fish tank. Soon after, he made a larger coop on our back porch. The Methodist peeps were cool.
Early one morning, we, and our neighbors, heard clear confirmation that both were roosters. That afternoon, Dad made a gift of them to the flock at the Catholic convent in the next town.
My little sister was sad, but, also, her bedroom window opened to the back yard, and, even at the age of six, she wasn’t much of a morning person. She recognized the wisdom of their new home. In fact, she and Dad often enjoyed visiting Click and Clack. On peaceful, wooded grounds, near a pristine pond, they watched the flock from a bench, neighboring the new coop and its ample, shaded, pecking space for lots of chickens.
One day, I heard Sara say she was having trouble picking Clack out from the flock. Dad looked sideways at Mom. Later, when I asked him what was going on, Dad admitted that at least one of the two had “landed in the sisters’ stew pot.” He added that he saw “no need to point this out to Sara,” who would "figure it out" when she was ready. Agreed.
Then he said, “you know, years ago, some of the stores used to hand out colored peeps at Easter—their fur was dyed a bright pink, blue, green, you name it. At least,” Dad added, “Click and Clack didn’t have to suffer THAT. They had a pretty good life in the woods, near the pond,” he concluded, which did make me feel a bit better about the ultimate fate of these multi-denominational chicks.