File this month’s Weird Wednesday under “Hopeful Stories for Turkeys”. The last Wednesday of every month is a “Weird Wednesday” on Absolute Michigan, when Linda Godfrey brings you 100% of the USRDA of Michigan weirdness. You can listen to Linda’s latest podcasts and read her blog at uncannyworld.com and also check out her books including Weird Michigan & Strange Michigan.
The Chick Inn Triptych by jnhkrawczyk
Brawn beats brains – Michigan’s Headless Chicken
The small town of Fruita, Colorado, holds a yearly festival dedicated to a bird that defied the laws of biology by staying alive after being decapitated for a farmer’s dinner. In 1945, ‘Mike’ the headless chicken lived for eighteen months with only a brain stem and one ear to guide him, and became the star of a national sideshow tour. But he wasn’t the first headless chicken to survive the chopping block. Michigan’s Sault St. Marie boasted a crowd-pleasing, black leghorn decades earlier, in 1903. The headless chicken of the ‘Soo’ didn’t live as long as Mike, nor did she match Mike’s dizzying heights of fame and glory (Mike even has his own web site – miketheheadlesschicken.org), but she caused plenty of amazement in her day.
The natural wonder was created by one of the cooks at the Belvidere Hotel, who removed the hen’s noggin and tossed her body into a barrel to be prepared for that night’s roast chicken special. But when the cook pulled the hen’s body out to be plucked, she flew away and began strolling around the hotel’s basement floor.
Too amused to end the hen’s life again, the hotel employees began feeding her oatmeal gruel from a syringe and claimed that she seemed to enjoy her meals, although, as the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News noted, ‘she has no brains and no tongue to taste it with.’ Some of the Belvidere workers, in fact, made a small fortune by betting patrons a dollar that they had a live, headless chicken in the basement, then escorting their dupes to the basement to prove their claim and collect. The stalwart hen did make national newspaper headlines.
Unlike Colorado’s Mike, however, the Soo’s headless black leghorn was not awarded the dignity of a recorded name, and she lived only seventeen days before she finally succumbed. Rumor around town has it she was stuffed not with bread crumbs but a taxidermist’s form, and was displayed at various places. No one seems to know where she ended up. But she was seen by hundreds during those seventeen amazing days, and is remembered now as a testimonial to life and its occasional ability to survive against all conceivable odds.