Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Imagining Cluckingham Palace

photograph: John Bonzo
According to a recent Times obit Bo Pilgrim who started Pilgrim’s Pride inhabited  “Chateau de Pilgrim, a French baroque mansion…Local residents referred to…as  Cluckingham Palace,” located in Pittsburg, not Pennsylvania, but Texas ("Bo Pilgrim, Founder of Pilgram's Pride Poultry Products, Dies at 89"NYT, 7/24/17). All kinds of larger than life personalities have occupied unusual homes. For instance, Presley lived in Graceland and Prince in Paisley Park. During the Kennedy Years you were always hearing about Hyannis Port, though the Kennedy White House was frequently referred to as Camelot. But it’s interesting to speculate on the décor of a place named Cluckingham Palace. Would  Chicken Little be part of the wall treatment and would chicken wings be served as appetizers? What were meals like at the Pilgrim residence? Were steaks, chops and even meatloaf served? One of Mr. Pilgrim’s greatest innovations according to the Times obit was “the boneless whole chicken,” though it would be an advertising campaign using his own likeness in a Pilgrim’s hat that would ultimately be the source of his notoreity. The Times obit didn’t mention Frank Perdue, but you can’t but wonder if these two giants of the poultry business were friends or just rivals and what about The Colonel (to whom Bo was apparently a supplier)? Even though Pilgrim spent most of his adult life around chicken, he apparently had a deep faith in God. And it seems unlikely he would ever have you the dismissive expression, “it’s for the birds.”

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