ASSOCIATED POULTRY (Click Photos to Enlarge)
With its eccentric sawed-log shell, and the neon chicken perched on a big hanging sign that could be easily read by drivers coming in both directions on Victory Way, (AKA Bothell Way and Lake City Way), the Associated Poultry Company was an almost charming place to “buy direct,” as other sign boards declare, fryers and eggs cheap.
The eggs were gathered from the nesting boxes in the long log box to the rear and there the hens were also knifed, plucked, and trimmed before being brought out to the A-frame show room. There the fryers were hung above a sawdust floor from steel racks screwed to a knotty pine ceiling.
The Associated Poultry was constructed in 1930 primarily, as another sings reads, to “supply the Coon Chicken Inn,” a road house with live music, and chicken dinners served from its own semi-log quarters nearby on Lake City Way. It survived for twenty years on Associated Poultry’s fryers; a menu it claimed was homage to southern cooking. Older readers may remember the front door to this chicken dinner house. One entered through the open mouth of a black face. It was a grotesque but skilled caricature of a minstrel player more than a West African male.
The Inn closed in the 1949, when America’s “Jim Crow” years of post-civil war race relations were on the eve of being rolled over with civil rights. A G.I. Joe’s New Country Store moved into the building. Associated poultry was torn down earlier in 1950-51, and replaced ten years later with a Shell station.
Artifacts from the “Coon Chicken” culture on Bothell Way are exhibited and interpreted at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia on the campus of Michigan’s Ferris State University. The museum’s candid mission is “to promote racial tolerance by helping people understand the historical and contemporary expressions of intolerance.”