S: My Manny Moons at Perdue
FC: My Many Many Moons at | Cecilia Hawkins | by | Frank Perdue 1920 - 2005
1: You never know when you first set foot into a new job you'd figure would be for just a few years, that it would become that much a part of your life... Growing up in Rockingham County, VA, one becomes use to be surrounded by the Poultry Industry. Everywhere are poultry farms, long stretches of turkey houses, hatcheries; all to support the local agriculture. You would often see a truck full of turkeys on their way to their destiny of becoming someone’s dinner, poor things; rattling down the road, feathers flying. At one time, our county was the home of four major poultry producers: Rockingham (Rocco), Wampler-Long Acre, Holly Farms, and in 1984, Frank Perdue bought the Shenmar Plant Facility in Bridgewater, VA, to enter into the Turkey and further processing of the industry. Bridgewater, at the time, was Perdue’s fifth facility, first being a non-kill plant (thank God); they had a Research and Development Department, and started with a deboning to furnish raw material for their brand new PDI “Perdue Done It” Product Line. In June of 1987, they finished construction on the Chicken and Turkey Pack Out areas, and that’s where I come in. I started in August 1987, three months after they opened Chicken Pack Out. I only planned on being at this place for three years, ...and well..many moons later. | How it all began | How it all began..
2: Three Generations
5: To the very end, Frank never stopped caring about the company he helped create with his father Arther whom he not only loved but held great respect for. | Franklin Parson Perdue 1920 - 2005
10: The First Tour of Duty Chicken Pack Out ~ Wing Line | Aug. 27, 1987 - Feb. 2, 1994 | I began my career on the Bellas Line “processing perfectly portioned poultry parts for Perdue Farms” as I always joked. There were two main lines in chicken packout; each named for the Oven Maker of that line; we were the Bellas line will the nuggets/tenders were packed over on the Stein Line. My first supervisor, for a few months, was a nice, older but idiot man named Kenneth Hilbert. However, we had an outstanding coordinator named Darby Moran who really ran the line, and we all adored her. I started my first day with a lady I befriended named Pat. We were quite nervous. After orientation, we ate lunch and waited in the cafeteria for over an hour for someone to come get us. We donned our hairnets, blue jacket, blue plastic sleeves, white cotton liners, and these cotton masks we had to wear. We went onto the line, packed a few parts, and spent the last two hours sweeping. That was when I met Joanne Prieto, a very hard working lady I knew for years. Her partner in crime was the fastest boxmaker in the east named Joanne Roadcap. During my first four months, it was hard to get use to the work. I got to know many good ladies and a few henpeckers that got on my nervesPat and I became close to two very nice older women – Sharon Lamb and Janice. Rosie Landes use to wear her dark blue Perdue cap and was followed around by hefty Betty who use to wear bells on her shoes at Christmas (we called her “cow bells”) One very fine gal, the fastest taper in the west and casepacker was Rosie Haliburten, a very hard working and good lady to be around. Then there was Carolyn Shifflett, with a nose as big as her ego, who was always in competition with Linda Dupont, a grader, whose daughter Lisa was herself proclaimed “Perdue Princess” and very annoying. There was Barbara and her two friends who were always getting into trouble; they use to go down to the river at break and get drunk. Boy, that Christmas proved to be interesting.. those three had their Santa hats on while we were trying to process roasters and were singing away with Christmas Carols. And then there was my favorite ol’ lady: Phyllis Baker. Phyllis was a crusty, ol’ poultry veteran who’s dear face would turn red when she laughed. She was somewhat hunched over, and always took the spot at the front of the packing area of the machine to place her bag of chicken on; she was one fine, hard worker. I met Phyllis in my first week; I was alone at lunch looking for a place to sit in the cafeteria, and I saw Phyllis alone at a table. She seemed like a nice, harmless old lady, so I walked over and asked her if I could join her. She smiled, and motioned to have a seat. To make conversation, I referred to the machine problems we had that morning, “Some day it’s been, huh?”; trying to be polite and not cuss. She looked over at me, and said, “That fer f**** damn sure!”. I balked for a moment, wow, at first shocked by her candor, but ended up adoring her over the next couple of years.
15: After spending over 20 years with Perdue Farms up to your elbows in chicken wings well, let’s just say it can make one’s imagination definitely go to the Far Side This is a mini soap opera that combines all my favorite memories of the Bridgewater Plant and people I spent many years working with..
28: The End ...at least we hope...
33: Wisdom Teeth | Just Thoughts from Memories and Experiences of Life Itself...
34: We moved here to Harrisonburg in 1973 to a townhouse on a street that ended into a magical forest. I was shy, and nine years old. We made our neighborhood friends overtime, but my favorite place was that forest. It was four acres of undeveloped property riddled with paths that lead to great, imaginary things. You entered going up a little hill on a path that cut through a rusty barbwire fence. On either side were small paths leading into the tangled jungle along the evil fence of thorns. You stepped out into a clearing and to your right was the “spider web” – a huge, old, majestic apple tree where the branches reached the ground on all sides creating an amazing tepee; it was so beautiful in spring; I would hold weddings there. The path continued, to your left you could see East Market street, but it’s loud traffic didn’t exist in this quiet place. There was small grove of birch trees that became Campsite No. 4. To the right a path went into the woods to a circular bike path, off it were secret passages that lead to unknowing neighbors’ back yard to spy on them hanging clothes on line in code. The main path ended behind a motel, but before you exited, to your left were the Garden of Phlox that you could get lost in, and even more cool, to the right was the “Restaurant” where we held great banquets. It was a huge, old tree that had fallen on it’s side. It even had a kitchen – on old block of cement riddled with gravel. It was perfect, beside it was a wild onion patch – I’d pull those up and chop away for the banquet. Yet the best part of the forest was along the backyard of the townhouse. The fence no longer existed there, and the first small clearing was the laboratory for all the old bottles found there. Further down was a huge, pile of rocks that became “Headquarters”; it even had a desk and endless ‘pens” from all the twigs I could break off from the surround tree branches. We even had a large branch to sit on to settle disputes between the squirrels. Up toward the road was a pile of eternal leaves you could fall into and disappear. We anointed that as the “Hospital”. Many hours were spent here. However, all things change. It was in the newspaper the land was sold to a local business to build. I was devastated coming home one day, seeing the yellow bulldozers behind the trees. I took a closer look, just in time to see them put chains around the restaurant and pull out the fallen tree, it’s upper branches reaching back desperately to save itself. I rushed home in tears. Years have gone by. Eventually we moved to our new home in the county, but no forest could compare to my magical place. I grew up, and in 1983, moved close to where we first lived. It was a cold morning I decided to take a walk, and out of curiosity, I went to see my four acres of magic. It was paved over. The brick building had graced the site for many years now. I walked where I could guess the old main path was. The motel was still there. | My Childhood Forest
35: To my disbelief, I came across an old, big cement block. I couldn’t believe it! It was my kitchen! I sat on it, very cold this dewey, misty morning. I looked over and saw the wild onion patch. HA! Those evil bull dozers weren’t able to get those! Reaching down, I pulled up some onions, and took a deep whiff. For a moment I was nine again, on a warm summer day ready to prepare for the great wedding banquet. Oh, how I miss that innocent freedom! With joy, I got up and walked home to fix myself breakfast; something I never did. Twenty five years have gone by. I’ve since gotten older, married, became a parent, bought a house; living the stress of everyday life. During one particularly bad day, I was in Harrisonburg, and for the heck of it, drove down that old street. The townhouse was still there. I parked my car and got out. The entrance to the forest was actually still there. I climbed up the little hill, amazed how it mentally shrank over the years. I saw two old, original trees. Making sure no one was looking, I hugged one because, yes, it was an old friend. I walked over the paved parking lot, cracked with age, and toward the still standing motel. I noted a drainage area where there were the trees there were all that was left of my magical forest. I went down toward it, and under some branches I pulled up, there it was. My kitchen, almost forty years later. Wow! I couldn’t believe it! I sat on the old, cement block, running my hands over the gravel stuck in it. And looking over, there they were, several generations later of wild onions. Again I reached down and pulled up a bunch, taking in deep the whiff of the smell along with a ton of happy memories. I sat for a moment, finding myself again, my spirits uplifted. Amazing how an old, worthless portion of property is the most precious place in the world to me. After a while, I got up. I looked at my old block, wishing somehow I had the money to transport it home, but I don’t think my husband would like it in our front yard. I would, even with the old pipe sticking out of the side. So I settled on a leaf from the tree to put in my bible, and laid the bunch of onions on the block as a tribute. I left feeling whole again. Nice when you can find something time can’t touch.
36: Motivation was never really my cup of tea.. No, I’m not the perfect housekeeper, ask the hubby. True, when you have a cluttery spouse and kids, you tend to get tired of picking up after others, especially if the trashcan is less than a foot away. It is a basic human trait, along with unhealthy eating and taking extra naps when possible. We are there for the moment. Oh, vacuuming, I hate it so much I’d be happy to leave my vacuum cleaner on someone else’s doorstep. True, I like a clean house like any. In this age of remotes, why can’t someone create one for clutter? You get the place picked up, program it, and every night, hit the button and kapooof! You house is clean. It’d sure be nice to have one of those for the litter box as well. Luckily I’m not a hoarder, just married to one in denial. I’m just kidding, really. Once I tried to clear out the store room, and as I was carrying stuff out to throw away, he was moving some items back in. Sigh.. I think we’re part of that lost generation that once made beds, at least in my childhood I did. As soon as I moved out, I stopped that terrible habit. I’ll break down once a year and make the bed; I do change the sheets, though. It’s a little scary when the pillow case says to get up. My best motivation is the influence of others. When I know company is coming, I fly through the house with amazing speed and get it into shape. I wish I could take that same 20 minutes and apply it to every Saturday morning. Even though I’m middle aged, when the parents come to visit, you can eat off the kitchen floor by golly! Luckily their last visit was at the end of summer, so I got my fall cleaning done in three days. We cleared out the guest room the mass pile of boxes “we’ll get to one day”. I even pulled my eclectic collection of “country stuff” from the kitchen shelves and dusted them! Okay, a secret I learned for professionally cleaning apartments (yes, it is true, didn’t I say it’s easier for me to clean for others?) was to pile a bunch of grease covered, dust embedded washable objects into the dishwasher (my one favorite appliance besides the fridge) and run a load. It’s perfect to use when you dust once a year. One of the few things I truly enjoy is laundry because I can sit in front of the tv and fold, and not feel so guilty. The one best thing I learned in Home Ec. Class was washing dishes as you go about cooking so you’re not left with an insurmountable pile of messy bowls and pans that’s going to sit there for a week. And the grocery shopping? Hand me that list! It’s shopping, hello! True, reaching for a can of tuna is not as fulfilling as buying that perfect, matching pair of cute shoes, but at least you’re pulling in the driveway with a car full of merchandise of some sort! The influence of others can be good or bad, as we all know. It’s really your own choice how to use it to your advantage. I just ask to use it to positive benefits for yourself and others, and believe me, I know how that’s open to interpretation. I use it to help me control my weakness such as passing that evil candy dish at work. I need to keep in good health for my kids, so just take one piece, not five. My house isn’t a sea of mess, you can see all the carpets, but if I could just pretend God is on His way over, I’ll get it in tip top shape. Maybe convincing myself of an impending IRS audit will get me to balance my check book, you never know. As a kid, I hoped the right motivation would come naturally as I grew up; get real. It’s a choice, but with choices, good outcomes are guaranteed.
37: How on earth does one write about a ham sandwich? Well, I got the idea when during a moment of writer’s block. One thing I heard when having that is “look to your left” if you need something to write about. So, while at my computer, I glance to my left, and sitting there patiently waiting to be eaten was my ham sandwich on a small plate. Just Ham and Mayo on wheat bread. However, sandwiches really do play a part in life. For me, a whole life time of memories can circulate around this great American food we refer to as a sandwich. I remember at the age of three I use to take my Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich and pull it apart to eat. At four, I remember the great significance of my first McDonald’s Hamburger. At five, my Dad, who never cooked, prepared me a tuna fish sandwich one afternoon, and I ate it feeling so important to him. I’ve loved tuna fish to this day because of that. Mom, to save money, bought the store brand of white bread so Wonder Bread was such a treat to me. She’d buy a loaf and we’d consume it by the next day, just like Oreo’s and Lucky Charms Cereal. I also grew to love bologna, a word I could spell thanks to the cute Oscar Myer commercial. My sisters and I would make Mom crazy over those because each of us had to have our “own and ours only version” of a bologna sandwich: The oldest sister liked butter/bologna, the middle sister liked mayo/bologna, and me, had to have my mustard/bologna. And tho as much as I love cheese, I don’t want it on my sandwiches, by golly! However, during my teen years, the iconic Grilled Cheese sandwich was a favorite to fix for myself on Saturdays. I felt so grown up pulling out the frying pan! Yes, after several attempts of nearly setting the kitchen on fire and stinking up the house. I finally learned that butter melts best at medium heat. Dad always knew when I made one. He’d notice the smoke hanging around the kitchen when he got home. Ahh, the memories the odor of over caramelized butter brings! As I progressed through the single years, sandwiches were usually the main course of my meals. Easy to fix, cheap, and went great with Rama Noodles and Boxed Mac ‘n’ Cheese. One of my favorite jobs was working at Spanky’s Delicatessen. I loved living in Harrisonburg, and going in that terrific, eclectic restaurant. I had a memory at every table. When working there, I took great pride as you could name a sandwich, and I could spit out the ingredients in seconds flat. The Spud: roast beef, swiss cheese, bacon, spanky’s sauce on rye bread! The Alfalfa – the French bread RB Sandwich: Roast Beef, Swiss Cheese, Spanky’s sauce, lettuce, tomato on French Bread! And yes, the Bubbles was the best veggie sandwich known to mankind! How I miss that place and their jelly beans. I use to work at the Waffle House, and let me tell you, how I fell in love with BLT’s. To this day, well, having kids, I’ve passed on the simplistic joy of sandwiches. They’ve gotten older and have figured out they’re not such complicated cooking, but I still like slicing the sandwich in half the feed my stinkers. You can make up fancy names to make a simple sandwich; for an easy dinner, I’d ask the hubby, “How do Toasted tuna sandwiches sound?”. At first he was so impressed, but 20 years later, he still likes me to fix them, even though he long since figured it out. So yes, that Ham Sandwich. I’ve since finished it by now. But every bite brings some memory, and that’s something to smile about. So need a subject of conversation? Throw off your pals, and ask, “How has a sandwich influenced your life?” After the bazaar looks you may receive, I’m sure you’ll get some interesting answers. Trust me. | That Ham Sandwich...
40: You can ask a thousand questions and give honest answers, but how about the REALLY honest answer? For one, who inspires me? Many great people do from teachers, leaders, heroes, and to my mentor, a police officer whose five minute talk put me on the right path. Who really inspires me? My husband and kids. We struggle and enjoy every day and I can’t begin to imagine my life with them. Who do I want to be like? Well, Jesus for one; He’s humble, cares for those in need, loves all and forgives, a person of peace; the best example how to handle everything. My Sunday School Class teacher who is very human, admits it, but has a heart of gold and eternal patience. Or even that amazing high school English teacher, Mrs. Blakemore, who would inspire even the least enthusiastic student to read Nathaniel Hawthorne. But who do I really want to be like? Robin Williams and Bugs Bunny. Yes. They both are quick thinkers, witty, comes up the best answer for every predicament, always leaving you with a huge smile. Who do I want to meet? Jimmy Carter, a man too honest for DC; for world peace meant as much to him as it does me. I still wish I could meet Carl Sagan, a man who inspired me to go into Astronomy, despite the fact I was horrible at math. I’d love to invite to dinner great thinkers like Gandhi, Mandela, Mark Twain, Isaac Newton, and Galileo. Who do I really want to meet? Shaun Cassidy, my first love. He was your typical 1970’s teen idol I wallpapered my bedroom with. I’d scream at the TV while he sang. I bought every magazine he graced. Yet he continued to work where he started at ABC for over 25 years as a TV producer. In this day and age, you’ll never find him on some pathetic reality tv show for stupid has-beens clinging to the lime light. He always had class, and still does. Where would I like to go? Everywhere. This world offers the most amazing things to see; from the great national parks, to ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean Ocean on to Asia and Australia. I love nature and history, and I know one day the History Channel will live up to its name again. But where do I REALLY want to go? A long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Yes, I’m the proud mother of a second generation of Star Wars fans. My dad ran the theater on South Main, and in 1977, tired of hearing about this incredible movie I finally went to see, was introduced to the most amazing world of a galaxy, planets, and an evil empire verses these incredible (and very cute) heroes. It was the perfect story with a happy ending. So yes, we’re all human, and that’s okay. It’s good and admirable to be inspired by great things, but it is also okay to have your personal list of those REALLY important things. It’s who we are. | REALLY?
41: Man, can they drive you crazy or what???? From the fabled mother’n’law to that high school bimbo, why can’t these people get a life? I’ve admitted before as to one not have much patience; that’s a bad mixture with a type A personality, let me tell you. I have great empathy for others, but hand in hand, I can carry a grudge for a long time, something I hate to admit. Every human has had a bully, pain in the tukush, some nemesis or “enemy” that seems to get great enjoyment standing on our last nerve. It seems a priority in their life to make us miserable. In high school, yes, I had “the one”; the same type of girl who, with an agenda, did everything she could to make life miserable. It would take a few words of truth into her face, and she’d leave. It was usually so easy, it was pathetic. Years after we graduated, I ended up working the same restaurant she was an assistant manager. At first, she was great to get along with; I really thought she either matured or finally got treatment, but sadly that proved not true. After a few months and 23 employees quitting because of her, I happily walked out the door on her with gusto on a busy Friday night taking my friend with me. She stood there glaring at us while the rest of the employees secretly cheered us on. From then on, for years, if running into her, would give me the evil eye, but I couldn’t care less. It started with a nice return wave to a bored “get a life, will ya?” look. I was in the same restaurant with two friends, and there she was, getting her cohorts around her to start whispering about us. Really? No problem; just brought out the truth. “Yeah”, I chimed loudly, “she married a guy I dumped; I think it’s funny as hell.” She just turned and didn’t come back. Don’t look at me; it was her audience she compiled. I did see her at the first High School Reunion I went to, our 25th, and seeing her face when she recognized me was, yeah, funny at first, but meant nothing. I didn’t even waste my time acknowledging her. Why, when she’d be as rude as she can be anyway? Honestly, she was never worth it to begin with. I just hope one day she’ll look into that therapy. Not my fault she went through five fiancé’s and two marriages. We run into people like this all the time, sadly enough. You have them in class, at work, in the social network, church, take your pick. One nice thing with getting older is your realize life really is too short to sweat over that. Got the evil eye from someone you can see right through and they know it? Best advice: Golden Rule; treat them as you’d want to be treated. KILL them with kindness, overload that saccharin sweetness until they droooooowwn. You can walk away satisfied knowing you still have YOUR self respect and dignity, and be proud you don’t have to treat people that way. Keep that truth in your heart. Being nice to your nemesis is the best revenge. | Being Nice to Your Nemesis . . .