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Foodways Traditions – livestock in the kitchen 

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Terri Hunter

My daddy, Hubert Bateman, along with a few deputies, highway patrolmen, and town policemen, was all the law there was in Macon County for eight years. During his time as sheriff, he became fast friends with the other lawmen in the county, and they spent what time they could pulling jokes on each other.

Way down on Burningtown Road lived a woman not known for cleanliness. It was rumored her livestock had free-rein in her house, and she left her front door and back door wide open in warm weather so the animals could come and go as they pleased. She even took chickens to town in her car, or so people said.

One afternoon, Daddy and one of his deputies, Melvin Ashe, drove to Burningtown to deliver a message to her. While on the way there, Daddy and Melvin discussed the many stories they had heard about how the woman even allowed livestock in her kitchen and chickens on her countertops. They both agreed they had scruples about food preparation and neither would dare want to eat a thing coming out of that kitchen.

Upon arrival, they sat with her on her porch and observed the comings and goings of a sheep, pigs, and several chickens. They visited for a while and delivered the message.

While they continued talking, she suddenly remembered her Southern manners and asked if either would like a cup of coffee. Melvin spoke right up before Daddy could answer and said, “I wouldn’t care for one, but Hubert has been talking about wanting a cup ever since we left town.”

The story ends there. I don’t know how Daddy repaid Melvin, but I wish I did.