World Famous Chicken Cannon

World Famous Chicken Cannon

There are some strange and wonderful characters in East Texas, a geographic region best described as the land that time, and damned near everything else, forgot. East Texas sports some of the most beautiful country you will ever feast your eyes upon, as you can easily traverse a swamp while driving through a pine forest at the same time.

The good folk of East Texas can be a reticent lot, as one census taker found out some Chickens and Childrenyears ago. Seems that there was some doubt as to the accuracy of the count in one East Texas county. Don’t ask which one. Some things are better left to the imagination.

At any rate, he came upon this lady doing her laundry in a cast iron kettle, water bubbling hot, over a well stoked wood fire. It was downright picturesque, and could have been a scene from the late 1800’s, as opposed to sometime around the mid 1970’s.

He identified himself to the woman, and waited… and waited… and waited. Figuring her to be hard of hearing, he announced his name and position a bit louder, and told her he was there, trying to find out how many people lived in that particular East Texas county.

The woman eyed him with a level of suspicion that can only be mustered in a trailer park, or a foster home, spat some tobacco juice on the fire underneath her kettle, and said, “Well, hell mister! Why are you asking me? I ain’t counted ’em.”

As it turns out, her name was Mabel Jeweleen Dirvish, mother of long-time East Texas high school football star, Purvis Dervish. Purvis always figured his moves at blocking back… (he’d sort of whirl around, flail his arms and make a sound like a tornado drawing a bead on a trailer park, snort and kick dirt clod field goals behind his back, and oncoming defensive linemen would just melt in their tracks like bad butter). Purvis’ daddy was the owner of a portable tilt-a-whirl ride, and he was born while his mama was helping Daddy Dirvish test the ride after a particularly hard road trip.

The Boys in the Lotto LabThat, and the fact that Purvis stayed in high school until he was 27 years old, probably accounted for the fact that they moved around a lot!  After Purvis finally graduated from high school, he took a job with the FAA. Seems he had the patent on an invention they desperately wanted for their testing program to build jet airliners with windshields impervious to the odd bird. Purvis had invented a cannon that shot dead chickens. Nobody ever figured out why he invented it, but he did, and the FAA wanted it, and Purvis

figured if they wanted his chicken gun, why they’d have to take him too.

That chicken gun helped the FAA solve one of the modern mysteries of flight… how to build and install windshields that would bounce a bird off into birdy heaven without entering the cockpit and wreaking serious havoc.

Then, the French and the English got wind of Purvis and his invention, and got him to send his invention over to them to help out with the high speed trains. Seems they were Great Texas Fundraiserhaving the same problem with low flying foul. Purvis had no notion to travel to foreign lands, so he sent the chicken gun with explicit instructions on its use. To his utter amazement, the French and the English wanted their money back, because they said the gun didn’t work. Purvis looked over their procedures and wired back that they should try the tests one more time, and this time, Purvis wrote, “Use a thawed chicken.”

Hmmmmm. Maybe Purvis ain’t as dumb as he looks.

Olin Murrell
Austin, Texas

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