Kitsap’s Dirtiest Jobs: A couple more involving chickens and chimneys

Heard from John Hawkins of Seabeck in response to our latest “Kitsap at Work” installment. The subject “It’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it,” brought up not so pleasant memories for John, whose email is below.

John’s recollections of work on a chicken farm reminded me of the scene from “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Do the Chickens Have Large Talons?”

If anyone else wants to talk about their dirty job, feel free to post on the story. If you or someone you know has a job you think might be worth covering as part of the ongoing series, email me at chenry@kitsapsun.com or call (360) 792-9219. On deck: Feeding Kitsap, Holiday Retail Jobs

Thanks, Chris Henry

“Chris:

I read with interest about some dirty job experiences in The Sun and wanted to share some of my own very dirty job experiences.

In 1971 at the age of 14 I took a job with some of the neighbor kids at the chicken farm down the road from my house. Out of necessity, this was a night job as it required darkness, so getting up for school the following mornings was not easy. And we actually walked about a mile to work! (No, this is not just the standard parent’s line to try to impress the kids these days). The job was truly awful. It involved entering the giant chicken houses which held up to 50,000 chickens to catch the birds and put them in wooden crates to be shipped and processed in Puyallup for eating. If you have seen commercial chicken fryer farms, you know that the environment is (or was in those times) filthy with manure, dust and feathers. Grabbing chickens in the semi darkness illuminated only by faint blue light bulbs (which kept the birds only somewhat helpless with diminished ability to see us) naturally raised a LOT of choking dust and feathers. The doomed chickens set to flapping their wings and sometimes screaming, and the birds often sat on their droppings so that their feet were not clean! After a couple hours of catching and carrying up to eight angry birds at a time, then lifting them over our heads in some cases to shove them in the creates, our arms were scratched, sometimes bleeding, and covered in you-know-what! I remember that my mother made me remove my clothes outside when I got home, no surprise!

Later in life I took a part time job as a chimney sweep. Now, soot is really, really hard to scrub off your skin, maybe even worse than chicken manure! And the company had the sweeps wear a black top hat and black turtle neck shirt to the customer’s homes. You talk about HOT on summer days cleaning fireplaces and chimneys! Both of these jobs required respirators, but there was no way to avoid inhaling some of the dust and dirt. It may have been a health risk, but hey, it put money in my pocket.

These were definitely character-building jobs!

John Hawkins
Seabeck”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Please enter the word MILK here: