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Jack Zaleski: Col. Sanders' chickens have no souls

As the moon phased to full a few days ago, my calls and emails got weird, as they tend to do at the peak of the lunar cycle. I suspect there is no good science connecting weirdness to the moon, but consider the root of “lunacy” and “lunatic.”

Here’s a sampling of the best of the strange.

A caller who lives near the railroad mainline outside of Dilworth asked: “Ya know them oil trains with the tank cars?”

Yes, I said.

“Ya know, them ones goin’ west – the empties and all goin’ back to North Dakota and all. They ain’t empty,” he said.

Really, I said. What’s in ’em?

“I shouldn’t be sayin’ this,” he said, his voice dropping to whisper, “but I hear from my railroad buddies, you know, I heard them cars got nuke stuff in ’em. Nucaler waste and all.”

Really? I said. Where’s it coming from?

The impatience in his exhale indicated he didn’t think I was very smart.

“Ya know, from them East Coast atomic plants and the ones right here in Minnesota, ya know, like that town down the interstate – Monticello, I think.”

Yes, I said, there is a nuclear power plant there.

“See! See! I told you. Tank cars comin’ through here filled up with that stuff. You need to look into that. Do investigative like you do and all. I’m hearin’ they’re puttin’ it down old oil wells out there and no one’s doin’ anything about it.”

Where did you hear that? I asked.

“My railroad buddies, and they know,” he said.

They do?

“Yessir.” He paused. “Don’t believe me, do ya? I got it. I got it. You people are part of the thing – the conspiracy, ya know, ’cause you’re all gettin’ so rich on oil.”

And he hung up.

A caller from an undisclosed neighborhood in Fargo-Moorhead opened with this declaration:

“Oh, I love my chickens.”

She had my attention. Chickens? I asked.

“My chickens,” she said, “my friends. We talk every morning and before they go to sleep at night. It’s just lovely, my chickens. I just wanted you to know.”

Intrigued, I asked (realizing the mistake immediately): Do you collect eggs and butcher the birds?

“Oh no, no!” she said. “Eggs, yes, but kill my soul mates? How dare you say such an awful thing.”

Properly chastened, I asked: Soul mates?

“Oh, yes,” she said. “They are lovely souls, my chickens. And they all have lovely names.”

Before she started reciting chicken names, I dared again: Do you yourself eat chicken?

To my surprise she said, “I do. I stop at KFC at least once a week for the bucket deal. Very good chicken, extra crispy. But I don’t know those chickens as I know my chickens.”

Of course not, I said. How could you?

“And, I want you to know,” she said, “that Col. Sanders’ chickens have no souls.”

Did not know that, I said.

She ended our conversation with a gracious, “have a nice day.”

I’ve wondered since her call if chickens howl at the moon. Or would they cluck …?

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at or (701) 241-5521.