Silas Wilson: Busy Man With Chicks to Feed
By Bill Lancaster
At Silas Wilson's house just east of Sheridan, the conversation is always pleasant, the coffee fresh, the politics an important issue and the hospitality generous. Now 51, Silas Woodrow Wilson, born June 19, 1917, at Grapevine, Arkansas, bides his time with his various creative hobbies -- his most recent: raising chickens. "Oh, I like to do woodworking, paint, raise a garden and fish," says Mr. Wilson, "but as of late, I've taken a big interest in my chickens."
Employed as a saw filer at J.L. Williams and Sons for 13 years, Mr. Wilson had to leave the work field in January of 1961 after suffering a severe heart attack. And since his recovery, he has devoted his talents to such things as wood working, gardening, etc.
The son of Silas L. and Mattie I. Wilson of Grapevine, Silas moved to Sheridan in 1935 where he worked as a carpenter. After being discharged after a brief hitch in the Navy, Mr. Wilson returned to Sheridan where he continued his carpentry. “After my heart attack, I knew I would have to take things a little easier,” he related. “But you know keeping things in shape around the house here is a full-time job.” By “keeping things in shape” Mr. Wilson takes in things like building new furniture for his living room, remodeling a china cabinet for his wife, Beulah, building picture frames, raising a garden and most importantly, feeding the chickens.
Looking forward to the political races each year, Mr. Wilson likes to discuss the candidates, both local and national, over a cup of his favorite coffee. But after each candidate is thoroughly examined as to his qualifications, the topic wanders to such interests as that mangy opossum that’s been raiding the chicken coop. “I noticed two of my chickens were gone the other morning,” Silas said while strolling through the chicken pen. “So I borrowed a steel trap from ole Joe (his neighbor Joe Lancaster) late one night and I caught the opossum the next morning.”
When he has time, Mr. Wilson likes to talk about his son, Melton, who is serving in the Air Force in London, England, and his daughter, Shirley, who lives in Little Rock. “Melton said in a letter yesterday that the weather was beginning to warm up a little over there,” he said. “But he’s had a pretty tough go of it so far… the weather I mean.” His wife, Beulah, chimes in: “When he got over there, he wrote home and said he would have to buy a completely new wardrobe. He said the clothes he had were fine for the Arkansas weather but just weren’t thick enough for the climate over there.”
And with more conversation, a few more cups of coffee, another look at the political situation, and one more stroll among the chickens, Silas Wilson’s day comes to a close. “I like the warmer nights,” he says looking at the thunderclouds gathering in the south-west. “I’m going fishing before long. If I can find somebody to feed the chickens…”
Click to enlarge.
Almost lost among the many faded photos I have of my family were these two pictures taken of Papaw's chickens. In the last photo above, you can see a ladder standing at the end of one of the coops where Papaw was probably making repairs. Those coops were around when I was growing up & remained standing until after the home place was sold in the early 90's.
See the white house in the background of the same photo? This is the house where the steel trap was borrowed from Joe Lancaster & where Bill Lancaster grew up. All this... out on the Redfield road.