Several years ago, maybe around 30, I celebrated one of those birthdays that requires the second number in my written age to be a zero. On that occasion, I was gifted with a young Mottled Houdan rooster. I quickly named him Jack. He was a blue-ribbon winner at the Johnson County Fair.
Jack was presented to me by our daughter, Michelle. He was a surprise birthday gift. The hows and whys of this special gift could fill another article.
After a few days passed, I figured Jack should have some freedom on occasion. I started releasing him from his cage for longer periods of time. Before very long, we noticed that he would fly up onto a branch of a maple tree location in our backyard.
We subsequently purchased a small plastic doghouse and attached it to the top of a newly implanted fence post near his maple tree. We thought Jack would enjoy sleeping, eating and drinking in his own house, but he preferred the tree. He discovered that the house didn’t come equipped with a back door emergency exit.
About a month later when a tornado swept across southern Marion County. Jack’s tree was still standing but it split down the middle. Some of it was still standing but it was a mess. We wondered what the little fellow would do. That evening, he relocated to a large evergreen tree between our driveway and our neighbor’s driveway. It was a perfect location. The branches would provide shelter for the upcoming winter. Jack was a happy rooster.
About six weeks later, Jack started his evening walk around the yard to inspect everything. He crowed loudly a few times and then leaped onto the favorite branch. He was ready to call it an evening. This daily ritual took place between 5:30 and 6:00 each day.
The next thing Jack knew, children were walking up and down both driveways and ringing doorbells. To him, they looked strange and were very noisy. Our rooster had never encountered anything like this before; all he could think of to do was to help announce their arrival.
After one young boy received his treats from our house, he asked what was making that “cock-a-doodle-do” sound and pointed toward the evergreen tree. I smiled and told him that it was a rooster, which lived in that tree.
The boy marched over to the tree and stared. It was pitch-dark and he was looking into an evergreen tree while trying to locate a rooster with black feathers. After a short while, Jack got tired of the kid staring and started crowing loudly.
The boy jumped and spun around, placing his hands on his hips and yelled at me, “Remote control!”
I displayed my empty hands to him and assured him that it was a real rooster. He turned around to face the tree again. I believe that Jack made some sort of noise and probably flapped his wings a bit. Very quickly, the young boy spun around and took off down our driveway and into the street.
I walked over to the tree and I’m sure I heard Jack chuckling to himself.
You never know what might be happening around here on Halloween.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools. He can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.