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BUZZING THE HENHOUSE NOT FOR CHICKEN-HEARTED

Walter and I were married in 1949. I was aware that he belonged to the Air Force Reserve and was active in it. He hoped to keep his pilot's license current by getting in hours at the Niagara Falls Air Base.

Although he was required to put in only one weekend a month, he usually went more often than that. When he first arrived at the Falls, he flew an AT6 -- an advanced trainer.

Our house at the time was halfway up Lower East Hill Road in Colden. Sometimes he would fly over it and waggle a little, and I would be thrilled. Imagine being able to fly -- I felt so proud!

One Saturday morning my mother called and told me if that I wanted some sweet corn, I should come over and pick it from her garden. Walter was at the Falls, so I was more than happy to accept her offer. We probably would sit and gab, too. It would be nice to chat with my mother for awhile. So I went across town to her house, halfway up Heath Hill.

Before we began our visit, I went out to the garden for some corn. The garden was on a knoll behind my father's barn and three hen houses. I said "hello" to my father as I passed him coming out of one of the hen houses.

In the garden, the corn was soon picked. Then I heard the distant sound of an airplane. Until the noise became louder, I hadn't even thought of Walter. But now I could see him over on the other side of the valley, waggling over our house. Too bad, I thought, that I wasn't home to wave.

Then surprisingly, the plane came over to my parents' side of the valley. Of course, he must have thought if I wasn't home, I would be at my parents' house.

Standing in the garden, I watched as Walter came over and I waved to him -- whether or not he could see me.

Walter then turned the plane and buzzed me by flying low and dipping over the garden. The noise was ear-splitting, but quickly over, and then he turned and headed back toward the Falls.

Immediately after hearing the noise, my father appeared, hurrying from between the chicken houses and heading my way. I had never seen him so mad. He was sort of a mild-mannered individual.

He came to me, seemed almost unable to speak, and finally said: "Don't you ever let your husband do that again! He has scared the wits out of my chickens. They are flying all over the place and they probably won't lay eggs for a week!"

Then my father turned and made his way to the house.

I made my way to the house, too, thanked my mother for the corn and headed for home.

Walter, city-bred as he was, had no idea that he was scaring the chickens. And I was too wrapped up in the moment to remember that chickens really are chicken-hearted.

My father's annoyance didn't last long, though. He soon forgave Walter, because after all, what can you expect from a city boy?

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