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Chicken Bone Chuck
An Oral Memoir of a Brassy Babe: Banks, Oregon, 3/17/22
© 2022 James LaFond
Written form memory on 3/21/22
We lived in a very small town, just a few hundred people and everybody knew everybody. Our parents rented a house from a couple who lived above us off the gravel road.
And there was Chuck. Chuck was a Vietnam Vet who, in retrospect had a severe case of PTSD before anyone really appreciated what that was. He was rather harmless—never hurt anyone in town. But the fact that he would go to the dumpster behind the supermarket and get a raw piece of chicken and walk around chewing on the chicken bones—now that was good enough to give him the name and to get people worried about him.
He lived in his parents house and did not seem to have a job—but he did get brain-damaged for his country. But, I suppose that is not quite enough to earn the courtesy of being left alone and not turned into a legendary menace.
Now, he knew the woods, was always out in the woods behind his property. He had a spot, a spot on the mountain above the Landlords’ House, where he would stand and look down upon the landlords’ house, which bothered them. The wife complained to my parents, and in their wisdom, they did make a reasonable suggestion, that if every time Mister Landlord drove off to town, Mrs. Landlord did not insist on gardening in the nude, that perhaps Chicken Bone Chuck, would not be so taken with gazing down on her yard from the spot on the mountain. After all, Chicken Bone Chuck would only be seen in his roost above when titties were on full display down the way.
I have to hand it to Mom and Dad, that they nailed that one.
Chicken Bone Chuck did resent weeds, particularly thistles growing up out of the gravel road. Once he came onto the porch and my father went out to talk to him. Chicken Bone Chuck was angry over my father not clearing the thistles from the gravel road—a nice stretch of gravel road. Well, Chuck stomped off, angry over the thistles and went on patrol, taking his gun up and down the gravel road and shooting the thistles.
So far as we knew, Chicken Bone Chuck never hurt, threatened or even touched another person. But calls to the police would go out and the police would go looking for Chuck. Once, the police drove up to his house. Now, these are not the kinder and gentler public safety oriented police that we know. These were good ole boys and they never had anything to do, because nothing ever happened in our little town. So, needless to say, you do not want to become the object of their rare call to action—because they were loaded for bear.
Chuck comes out of his house to speak to the police and they cube clubbed him and took him away. He was cube clubbed [1] in the head, received more brain damage, and was eventually back home and out of the hospital or wherever they took him. I was a younger teen at the time.
Once, I was down the road towards town doing a babysitting job, which was a lucrative but by no means joyful job for a thirteen-year-old-girl. [2] Then, just before it was time for me to return home, the police decide that they are finally going to get Chicken Bone Chuck—for what offense, who knew. Chuck had gotten in the habit, after receiving his additional brain damage from the cube beating [1] of not waiting around to greet the police—and I can’t say as I blame him.
Well, by golly, the police were going to get him. They had the entire gravel road taped off and no one was permitted to use it. This meant that I got to spend an entire 14 [2] hours at the babysitting house—not a nice time. The police were armed with body armor, long guns and outfitted for a hunt—hunting boots, the whole thing. Well, Chicken Bone Chuck lived in those woods, knew those woods, and the great hunt for the small town menace did not result in him being brought in.
Chicken Bone Chuck remained an odd, menacing legend and it was really disturbing to see him chew on raw chicken bones. But he apparently suffered no ill affects. Perhaps he took in just enough salmonella to boost his immune system?
One time, we girls, including Sarah of the broken boots, the three of us went to the local fair. This was an out doors event, a combination of carnival and Four-H gathering. The three of us were sitting on a blanket and here came Chicken Bone Chuck. He sat down right next to me on the blanket and I was shocked. My fears—instilled by this small town phobea over him being different—were put at ease though, as he very calmly, politely and seriously asked us girls about our plans for our education, careers and adulthood in general. He was a perfect gentleman, and having satisfied his curiosity that we were going somewhere in life, he excused himself.
That meeting with Chicken Bone Chuck taught me a lot about how society treats those who fail to measure up to a certain standard.
Chuck’s parents eventually passed away and he sold the property and moved away, no one knew where to. Couldn’t blame the poor guy for leaving town, after how wonderfully we treated him for his war service.
-1. The term the lady used was one I had never heard and was strange to me, but employed “cue” or “cube”.
-2. Might have transposed 14 and 13 with her age and how many hours she was at the babysitting house.
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