Friday, May 14, 2010

Mr. Patstone's Chickens Disturb the Neighborhood, 1941

Not all matters that historically have come before the Middleborough Board of Selectmen have proven weighty. In October, 1941, the Middleborough Selectmen, acting as the Board of Health, were called upon to address a nuisance complaint regarding roosters being kept on School Street, an issue which the correspondent from the Brockton Enterprise clearly found entertaining. The poor neighbors were slightly less amused.

Although none of the echoes reached the selectmen's meeting last night, the fact that roosters' crowed was a matter for consideration at the board's session. William Patstone, 28½ School Street, appeared before the board and opened the matter, and had proceeded well along in his discussion before the board informed him that the matter was not officially before them.

He told about a complaint which had been lodged against his roosters, evidently a flock rated by the neighbors with having great vocal powers. Mr. Patstone declared "there are others," meaning other roosters, with good heavy voices. He said the board of health had warned him that complaints and a petition with several signatures had been filed against his roosters. The selectmen, under the charter, are the board of health, but they had not heard about the roosters, so that matter evidently had gotten as far as their agent.

"Have you disposed of them?" queried a selectman. "No," Patstone replied, "but I moved them, and soon they will be no more, as with the holidays coming, I plan to eat them." He declared that others in the neighborhood had roosters living nearer to the folks who signed the complaint than do his crowers and that they had kept them longer than he had.

Selectman W. J. MacDougall, a past member of the grange, and a man who could qualify in judging the fine points of these barnyard alarm clocks, suggested that it might be a good thing to delegate Town Manager E. C. Peterson to make an early morning trip and listen to the roosters to determine the extent of the nuisance. But on second thought it was decided to let the selectmen do the investigating. No action was taken against the activities of the roosters, pending the investigation. Then again their death sentence by the axe may come first.

What is perhaps most surprising is the number of School Street residents still presumably keeping chickens at the time.

Rooster, photograph by
travis warren123, November 29, 2009, reprinted under a Creative Commons license.

Brockton Enterprise, "A Bit of Axe-Swinging May Solve Problem of Middleboro Selectmen", October 21, 1941.


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