“ The Poker Game,” I call your bet and raise you one chicken !


Copyright 2006 By Harless Edgar Warf


     As the two young boys walked along, discussing their forth coming activity for the day. The two young brothers were trying to decide, should they go fishing or should they look for discarded whiskey bottles for sell to boot Leggers? At two cents a bottle they would, in two hours, have twenty- five to thirty cents jingling in each of their pockets. In the year of 1939,that was enough money for each boy to buy candy, ice cream and a ticket to the Saturday movie matinee.  


     After talking it over, the brothers decided to go fishing. The sun was shining and the weather was suitable for fishing and they felt the whiskey bottles that were thrown away as dead soldiers, could wait to be collected on another day.


     While walking toward the nearby tug river, the brothers took inventory of their fishing gear. Three hooks, a ball of twine and four small flat lead straps, (which had been part of a railroad signal explosive,) that they could use as lead sinkers. The brothers knew a fishing pole for each of them, could be supplied by a pocketknife. When poles were cut from a sycamore tree at the river’s edge, they would then be able to catch some fish.

     As they continued to walk toward the river, a man’s voice called out asking, “Where are you boys going?” “ Why does it concern you, where we are going?” Answered the older brother in a voice loud enough for  the man to hear him. The man said,” I want to know if you boys would like to earn some money”,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
“ Who is that man, Do you know him?” the younger brother asked in a whisper” He’s ok! You were counting fishhooks and sinkers when we passed by him I saw some black men playing cards nearby. I recognize him as being one of the black card players.” Let’s go up and talk to him.


     When the brothers came near the man, the oldest brother asked what do you want us to do to earn some money.

     The man said, “Do you know where I can get a jug of homebrew? Because I play a better hand of poker when I drink

homebrew, he remarked,”                      

         The boys told the man that Floyd Penney’s wife, who lived near by, sold

homebrew. The man said, “ I know old, Floyd, we use to work together in the Gary # 2 coal mine at Alphues; His wife is the most, pretty black woman that I have ever laid my eyes on.”                                                                           

Go get me a half- gallon of homebrew. The boy quickly replied,” it will cost you a

         Dollar for a half- gallon plus a quarter for each of  us. The man laughed and then said,     

      “ You boys strike a hard bargain. Take this money and hurry back.”

       “ By the way, what is your name, just in case they want to know who we are buying homebrew for?” asked the older of the two brothers.

        “Tell them you are buying for Wilford Jones! But keep your eye on Floyd because he is a horse trader and will cheat you out of the shirt on your back,

        so be careful when you deal with Floyd,.” Warned Wilford as he sent the boys on their way. 
      “ We will keep an eye on Floyd.” Said the older brother to Wilford,”I remember  when he got into a dice game with me and my brother and a couple of other boys one day, with a pair of loaded dice. I grabbed his dice, made him return our money plus buy his dice back for twenty-five cents each.” Wilford said,” you boys will do!! You will do!!!” followed by a gleeful laugh, as the boys left for Mrs. Penney’s house.

        When the boys arrived at the penny’ house, Mrs. Penney invited them into 

Her kitchen. They told her they were there to buy homebrew.   She said, “I sell  

the best brew that you have ever tasted. My brew has a kick to it from my 

special recipe.” she remarked before leaving the kitchen to retrieve the brew. 

In the meantime, the boys were left  standing in the kitchen that was very hot with a  

Strong tobacco smell                                                                                                                                                                 

     A wood coal burning cook stove in Mrs. Penney’s kitchen was the source of

heat. A quart metal Jewel tea coffee can was the source of the tobacco smell. One

of the brothers walked over and looked into the coffee can, “It looks like the

contents of a spittoon in this can.  Look! She has a plug of brown mule chewing 

tobacco  melting in this can.”


     When Mrs. Penney returned, the oldest brother ask her about the tobacco in the can. “Oh! That’s my recipe that I put into my brew to give it a kick. How old are you boys?”

 “ I am eleven and he is nine so, don’t worry, Mrs. Penney, kick or no kick, we don’t drink.”

 “ Every body I know, likes you boys, they all say that you work hard to make a dime here and there. Are you going to be selling Rosebud salve again this year? Don’t forget to sell me some when you do.”

 “Yes, we will be selling salve, and seeds that we order from Lancaster, Pennsylvania; each year. We keep forty percent of the money from what we sell,” answered the younger of the two boys.+

          Mrs. Penney said,  “You boys know how to hustle for what you get but I’m told it’s a honest hustle. By the way, my husband Floyd has gone to the store and will be back soon, I’m sure he will want to talk to you boys when he gets back about earning some money. So eat some of these cookies that I have just baked and sit at the table and wait.” The boys were eager to wait for Floyd while devouring Mrs. Penney’s tasty cookies, so they quickly scrambled into their seats at the table.


            As soon as Floyd entered the kitchen he saw the boys sitting at his table and he said, “Hey! I have been looking and asking around for you boys. I am surprised to find you here waiting for me .Who are you taking that home brew to?”  One of the brothers said, “Wilford Jones!”

 Floyd said,” You better keep an eye on Wilford Jones because he is a horse trader, and will cheat you out of the shirt on your back!”

 One of the boys said in a whisper to his brother, “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black,”

“What did you say!” Floyd said.

“ I said that kettle on the stove sure is black.”

“ It sure is because my wife uses it to cook her brew outside over an open fire before she puts it in the jars, for drinking. Now lets talk business.” The older brother said, “Lets talk!”


         Floyd explained,” You know I have a poker game at my house every once in a while, that gives me an opportunity to earn a little money. The players like to drink my wife’s home brew and have a comfortable place to play cards but the thing that they like most is my wife’s fried chicken. 

I’m told your dad has a large flock of chickens and if he has as many chickens as I have been told, he will not miss a half dozen of his chickens. Now would he?” Maybe you are right Floyd but that would be stealing. My brother and I do a little fighting, cussing and poker playing but we don’t steal things.” The younger brother spoke up and said, “we, also don’t chase after women!” His older brother said,” my little brother speaks only for him self!”


        When Floyd quit laughing he said,” tomorrow night I’m having a game here and I need some chickens tonight so I can pluck the feathers off of them tomorrow, and my wife will fry them for tomorrow night.”

The brothers said they would talk it over and if they could help him they would get back to him. Floyd said,” if you bring me some chickens, come to my kitchen porch and knock on the door after dark.” The boys took the home brew from the table and left the Penney’s house to take the brew to Wilford Jones.


        When the boys met, Mr. Jones he said he was glad to see them and ready to quench his thirst, as well as change his luck in the card game he was in. The boys felt it was too late to go fishing and decided to go home for supper and would think of what to do about Floyd and his chickens after they ate their supper.

After supper the brothers talked it over, and decided they now had a chance to use a stacked deck on Floyd, like he had used a pair of loaded dice on them, so they took a chicken from their dads chicken lot, in order to supply Floyd with all the chickens he would buy.                                                                                     

When the older brother arrived at Floyd’s kitchen porch he carefully walked across the porch before he -----

Knocked on the door, Floyd opened it and haply said I see you have brought me some chickens! The older brother said,” I can only catch and carry one at a time.” That’s ok said Floyd, I’ll take them anyway I can get them.” By the way, where is your little brother? My dad will not let him stay out as late at night as he will let me, because he has more chores to do than me. How much are you going to give me for this chicken? I will give you thirty-five cents Floyd quickly replied. That’s Highway robbery Floyd and you know it! feel of that chicken’s leg, turn on the porch light and take a good look at it, I have to get at least seventy- five cents for this chicken, No leave the light off I’ll give you seventy-five cents. We don’t want the neighbors to know about our business. Go get me some more chickens, while I put this one in the coal box for safe keeping until tomorrow.                                                                                                                                       

The chicken was neatly tucked away into the coal box that was at the end of the kitchen porch in the back yard.                                                                                                                                                                 

The box had a closed lid on top and a chute at the bottom front of the box, for removing the coal. A panel that was channeled on each side for sliding up and down, worked just fine to pass the chicken into and out of the coal box and keep the chicken from escaping.                                                                                                                      


For the next two and one -half hour there was a continued knocking and haggling over price, (that went up and down but never the same price for the chickens) and stuffing them into the coal box, until Floyd thought he had bought enough chickens to suite his purpose.

       A few minutes after the last chicken sale the older brother eased up to the coal box, raised the top lid and whispered, come on out little brother and leave the chicken because, as many times as Floyd has pinched and felt of that one chicken, it needs a decent nights sleep, the older brother said jokingly!! Yet it will still be sore as a boil in the morning. I’ll bet not as sore as Floyd will be at us in the morning, said little brother as they walked away with a pocket lined with jingling silver.


Comments should be addressed to: cwarf3@insighbb.com



McDowell County